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Issue #1727      April 20, 2016

Cuba stands by principle

Last week’s Guardian (April 13) contained an article on the visit of US President Obama’s visit to Cuba which highlighted the negative aspects of both the visit itself, and US foreign policy towards the island for over 50 years. The positive aspects and outcomes of the process should also be considered.

I am confident that Cuba has entered the negotiations with eyes wide open. After 55 years of history dealing with sabotage and attempts to destabilise the revolution in order to effect regime change, they are fully aware of who and what they are dealing with. I feel sure that no one expected Obama to be any different.

I noted that Obama stated in his speech that Cuba is not a threat to the USA.

I was in Mexico at the time limited to CNN and as usual a great deal was made of trivia without getting near any of the real issues. There was a lot of coverage in Granma International, including the reports of both Presidents Castro and Obama which I caught up on in Havana.

The Rolling Stones concert on March 25 was a very big deal!

This was not, at least Mick Jagger’s, first visit to Cuba, and the concert was named something like the Concert Of Friendship. By all accounts in the press it was very well organised and went off smoothly.

It was free, with no entry charge and 1.3 million people attended the concert in the sporting complex neighbourhood in Havana.

Granma newspaper quoted Mick Jagger as saying that some of the world’s best musicians are in Cuba, and as a great gesture of solidarity after the concert the Cuban Institute of Music was donated a large amount of equipment and musical instruments to assist the aspiring musicians.

The fact remains that Cuba is not self sufficient in food production and while attempts are being made to reduce the amount of imports, a high percentage of its food is from other countries.

Apples, among other things, are imported from the US, but must be purchased from a third country due to the blockade, so I would respectfully suggest that comrade Fidel was speaking more in terms of not having US policies and ideology thrust on them.

The visit was quite historic due to Obama being the first President since 1928 to visit the island, and in the context of the ongoing negotiations between the two countries it could only have a positive impact.

There were some agreements made during the visit on agricultural produce and many other things, and I noticed for the first time pears for sale in the streets of Havana.

Some of the announced changes are;

  • An easing of the restrictions that will allow more US tourists to visit.
  • An increase in the number of direct flights by US airlines to Cuba.
  • Direct mail services between the two countries recommencing after 50 years.

According to reports from the Cuban government they have won some important victories during the negotiations, combined with pressure from international solidarity, including among other things the return of the Cuban Five and being taken off the list of countries that support terrorism.

It is important to note that during this whole process Cuba has not had to give up any of its principles.

The struggle continues to lift the Blockade and hand back Guantánamo Naval Base to the Cuban people.

Next article – Companies sue developing states through Western Europe

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