el maestro

el maestro
"Trincheras de ideas valen más que trincheras de piedra." José Martí

Monday, March 28, 2016

Brother Obama, by Fidel Castro

The kings of Spain brought us the conquistadores and masters, whose footprints remained in the circular land grants assigned to those searching for gold in the sands of rivers, an abusive and shameful form of exploitation, traces of which can be noted from the air in many places around the country.
Tourism today, in large part, consists of viewing the delights of our landscapes and tasting exquisite delicacies from our seas, and is always shared with the private capital of large foreign corporations, whose earnings, if they don’t reach billions of dollars, are not worthy of any attention whatsoever.
Since I find myself obliged to mention the issue, I must add - principally for the youth - that few people are aware of the importance of such a condition, in this singular moment of human history. I would not say that time has been lost, but I do not hesitate to affirm that we are not adequately informed, not you, nor us, of the knowledge and conscience that we must have to confront the realities which challenge us. The first to be taken into consideration is that our lives are but a fraction of a historical second, which must also be devoted in part to the vital necessities of every human being. One of the characteristics of this condition is the tendency to overvalue its role, in contrast, on the other hand, with the extraordinary number of persons who embody the loftiest dreams.
Nevertheless, no one is good or bad entirely on their own. None of us is designed for the role we must assume in a revolutionary society, although Cubans had the privilege of José Martí’s example. I even ask myself if he needed to die or not in Dos Ríos, when he said, “For me, it’s time,” and charged the Spanish forces entrenched in a solid line of firepower. He did not want to return to the United States, and there was no one who could make him. Someone ripped some pages from his diary. Who bears this treacherous responsibility, undoubtedly the work of an unscrupulous conspirator? Differences between the leaders were well known, but never indiscipline. “Whoever attempts to appropriate Cuba will reap only the dust of its soil drenched in blood, if he does not perish in the struggle,” stated the glorious Black leader Antonio Maceo. Máximo Gómez is likewise recognized as the most disciplined and discreet military chief in our history.
Looking at it from another angle, how can we not admire the indignation of Bonifacio Byrne when, from a distant boat returning him to Cuba, he saw another flag alongside that of the single star and declared, “My flag is that which has never been mercenary...” immediately adding one of the most beautiful phrases I have ever heard, “If it is torn to shreds, it will be my flag one day… our dead raising their arms will still be able to defend it!” Nor will I forget the blistering words of Camilo Cienfuegos that night, when, just some tens of meters away, bazookas and machine guns of U.S. origin in the hands of counterrevolutionaries were pointed toward that terrace on which we stood.
Obama was born in August of 1961, as he himself explained. More than half a century has transpired since that time.
Let us see, however, how our illustrious guest thinks today:
“I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas. I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” followed by a deluge of concepts entirely novel for the majority of us:
“We both live in a new world, colonized by Europeans,” the U.S. President continued, “Cuba, like the United States, was built in part by slaves brought here from Africa. Like the United States, the Cuban people can trace their heritage to both slaves and slave-owners.”
The native populations don’t exist at all in Obama’s mind. Nor does he say that the Revolution swept away racial discrimination, or that pensions and salaries for all Cubans were decreed by it before Mr. Barrack Obama was 10 years old. The hateful, racist bourgeois custom of hiring strongmen to expel Black citizens from recreational centers was swept away by the Cuban Revolution - that which would go down in history for the battle against apartheid that liberated Angola, putting an end to the presence of nuclear weapons on a continent of more than a billion inhabitants. This was not the objective of our solidarity, but rather to help the peoples of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and others under the fascist colonial domination of Portugal.
In 1961, just one year and three months after the triumph of the Revolution, a mercenary force with armored artillery and infantry, backed by aircraft, trained and accompanied by U.S. warships and aircraft carriers, attacked our country by surprise. Nothing can justify that perfidious attack which cost our country hundreds of losses, including deaths and injuries
As for the pro-yankee assault brigade, no evidence exists anywhere that it was possible to evacuate a single mercenary. Yankee combat planes were presented before the United Nations as the equipment of a Cuban uprising.
The military experience and power of this country is very well known. In Africa, they likewise believed that revolutionary Cuba would be easily taken out of the fight. The invasion via southern Angola by racist South African motorized brigades got close to Luanda, the capital in the eastern part of the country. There a struggle began which went on for no less than 15 years. I wouldn’t even talk about this, if I didn’t have the elemental duty to respond to Obama’s speech in Havana’s Alicia Alonso Grand Theater.
Nor will I attempt to give details, only emphasize that an honorable chapter in the struggle for human liberation was written there. In a certain way, I hoped Obama’s behavior would be correct. His humble origin and natural intelligence were evident. Mandela was imprisoned for life and had become a giant in the struggle for human dignity. One day, a copy of a book narrating part of Mandela’s life reached my hands, and - surprise! - the prologue was by Barack Obama. I rapidly skimmed the pages. The miniscule size of Mandela’s handwriting noting facts was incredible. Knowing men such as him was worthwhile.
Regarding the episode in South Africa I must point out another experience. I was really interested in learning more about how the South Africans had acquired nuclear weapons. I only had very precise information that there were no more than 10 or 12 bombs. A reliable source was the professor and researcher Piero Gleijeses, who had written the text Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976, an excellent piece. I knew he was the most reliable source on what had happened and I told him so; he responded that he had not spoken more about the matter as in the text he had responded to questions from compañero Jorge Risquet, who had been Cuban ambassador and collaborator in Angola, a very good friend of his. I located Risquet; already undertaking other important tasks he was finishing a course which would last several weeks longer. That task coincided with a fairly recent visit by Piero to our country; I had warned him that Risquet was getting on and his health was not great. A few days later what I had feared occurred. Risquet deteriorated and died. When Piero arrived there was nothing to do except make promises, but I had already received information related to the weapons and the assistance that racist South Africa had received from Reagan and Israel.
I do not know what Obama would have to say about this story now. I am unaware as to what he did or did not know, although it is very unlikely that he knew absolutely nothing. My modest suggestion is that he gives it thought and does not attempt now to elaborate theories on Cuban policy.
There is an important issue:
Obama made a speech in which he uses the most sweetened words to express: “It is time, now, to forget the past, leave the past behind, let us look to the future together, a future of hope. And it won’t be easy, there will be challenges and we must give it time; but my stay here gives me more hope in what we can do together as friends, as family, as neighbors, together.”
I suppose all of us were at risk of a heart attack upon hearing these words from the President of the United States. After a ruthless blockade that has lasted almost 60 years, and what about those who have died in the mercenary attacks on Cuban ships and ports, an airliner full of passengers blown up in midair, mercenary invasions, multiple acts of violence and coercion?
Nobody should be under the illusion that the people of this dignified and selfless country will renounce the glory, the rights, or the spiritual wealth they have gained with the development of education, science and culture.
I also warn that we are capable of producing the food and material riches we need with the efforts and intelligence of our people. We do not need the empire to give us anything. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, as this is our commitment to peace and fraternity among all human beings who live on this planet.
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 27, 2016
10:25 p.m.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The blockade continues intact, assures Bruno Rodríguez in a statement for the national and foreign press

The blockade continues intact, assures Bruno Rodríguez
Speaking during a press conference offered to national and international media in Havana, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez referred to the recent amendments announced by the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Commerce and the upcoming visit by President Barack Obama
March 17, 2016
On March 15, the Departments of the Treasury and of Commerce issued new regulations that modify the implementation of some aspects of the US blockade against Cuba.
This is the fourth announcement of this sort made by the Government of the United States since December 17, 2014, when the presidents of both countries made public their decision to re-establish diplomatic relations.
We are currently analyzing their scope and practical effects in order to confirm their feasibility.
After a preliminary consideration of these measures, it can be affirmed that they are positive.
Some of them expand the scope of those which had been adopted before; so is the case for the one authorizing now individual “people-to-people” educational travels. However, it should be recalled that the legal prohibition that prevents US citizens from freely traveling to Cuba is still in force. This prohibition should be lifted by the US Congress.
Cuba’s authorization to use US dollars in its international transactions, a measure which has been included in this new package, concerns an important aspect of the blockade. For this measure to be viable, the US Government is required to issue a political statement as well as clear and precise instructions that would provide legal and political guarantees to banks, in order to halt financial persecution and reverse the intimidating effects generated by the sanctions imposed for years on US and third-countries financial institutions for conducting legitimate transactions with Cuba.
In the coming days we will attempt to make some transfers in US dollars to confirm that these can be done and that the banks have received instructions indicating that they are allowed to engage in financial operations with Cuba without fear of sanctions. Besides, we hope that, from now on, such fines as those given to important banks, namely Commerzbank and Credit Agricole, just to mention the most recent examples, will not be applied again; and that foreign financial institutions would not refuse to make transactions with our country.
Authorizing Cuba to use US dollars does not mean that banking relations between Cuba and the United States have normalized. Cuban banks are still not allowed to open correspondent accounts in US banks, and therefore our operations will necessarily continue to be done through third parties, which increases operational costs as well as the amount of related procedures.
None of the other measures entered into force modify the implementation of fundamental aspects of the blockade. For example:
•   Investments other than those approved in our country’s telecom sector are not allowed.
•  The US ban on Cuban imports is still in force, and these include pharmaceuticals and biotech products. Thus, the limited authorized bilateral trade continues to be essentially a one-way trade. Only the absurd prohibition preventing US citizens from consuming and receiving Cuban products and services in third countries was modified.
•   Current restrictions on US exports to Cuba, which are limited and exclude key sectors of the Cuban economy, have not been modified.
•   Ships carrying goods to Cuba are still not allowed to touch US ports for a period of 180 days, thus increasing freight charges. The only measure adopted in this area was not meant to benefit Cuba, but rather to make US shipping companies operations   profitable.
•   Cuban as well as other countries’ individuals and companies are still arbitrarily listed as “specially designated nationals”, and for that reason they are prevented from doing transactions with US entities or their subsidiaries.
All of these restrictions could be eliminated by means of executive decisions.
The truth is that the blockade is still in force. Jack Lew, the Secretary of the Treasury, has himself recognized, two days ago, that the blockade still restricts, in a very, very significant way, the volume of transactions between Cuba and the United States.
The blockade also has dissuasive as well as punitive components. Here there are some examples:
•   US and foreign companies have been fined recently for providing services and equipment of US origin to Cuba.
•    Foreign companies trading with Cuban nickel and rum have seen their lines of credit cancelled and their bank transfers rejected, even if they were denominated in currencies other than the US dollar.
•   Foreign banks have closed down the bank accounts in currencies other than the US dollar maintained by the Cuban medical staff offering their cooperation in African countries.
•   US subsidiaries based in third countries have refused to provide their services to Cuban diplomatic missions and entities abroad.
The blockade is the most important obstacle to Cuba’s economic development and causes hardships to the Cuban people.
Therefore, lifting the blockade will be essential for normalizing relations between our two countries.
Senior officials of the US have stated that the purpose of the approved measures is “to empower” the Cuban people. If the US Government is really interested in helping the Cuban people, then the blockade should be lifted.
We recognize the position adopted by President Obama against the blockade and his repeated appeals to Congress urging it to lift it.
We expect the US Congress to act accordingly in the face of an almost unanimous claim of the international community and ever broader sectors of the US society and public opinion.
Cuba has engaged in the construction of a new relation with the United States, in the full exercise of its sovereignty and committed to its ideals of social justice and solidarity.
No one should expect that, in order to achieve that, Cuba will renounce anyone of its principles or its foreign policy, which is committed to the just causes all over the world and the defense of peoples’ self-determination.
Within a few days we will be welcoming the US President with our distinctive hospitality as well as with the respect and consideration he deserves in his condition as Head of State.
It will be an opportunity for him to know about our reality and meet a noble, proud and patriotic people struggling for a better future against all odds.
The US President will be able to see a nation that is involved in its economic and social development and the improvement of the wellbeing of its citizens, who enjoy rights and are able to show some achievements that are still a chimera for many countries of the world, despite our condition as a blockaded and underdeveloped country.

It will also be an important occasion to identify what new steps could be taken in the next few months to contribute to the process of improvement of relations, on the basis of respect and equality, for the benefit of both countries and peoples.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Visit of President Barack Obama to Cuba

Cuba reaffirms its will to advance in relations with the United States, on the basis of respect for the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and the principles of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.

President Barack Obama of the United States of America will make an official visit to Cuba this coming March 20-22.

This will be the second time a U.S. president comes to our archipelago. The only previous US president to do so was Calvin Coolidge who landed in Havana in January of 1928. He arrived aboard a warship to attend the 6th Pan American Conference which was being held under the sponsorship of Gerardo Machado, an infamous local character.  This will be the first time a president of the United States comes to a Cuba which is in full possession of her sovereignty and with a Revolution in power, headed by its historic leadership.

This event is part of the process initiated on December 17, 2014, when the President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, and President Barack Obama simultaneously announced the decision to reestablish the diplomatic relations that had been broken by the United States almost 54 years ago. It is part of the incipient complex process of normalization of bilateral ties and has advanced on the only grounds that are possible and just: respect, equality, reciprocity, and the recognition of our government’s legitimacy.

In the foremost place, this point has been reached as the result of the Cuban people’s heroic resistance and their loyalty to principles, the defense of national independence and sovereignty. Such values, which have not been negotiable for 50 years, led the United States government to admit to the severe damage the blockade has caused our population, and to recognize the failure of the openly hostile policy toward the Revolution. They were unable to impose conditions on Cuba which were contrary to our aspirations, forged over almost 150 years of heroic struggle, not with force, economic coercion, or isolation.

The current process undertaken with the United States has also been possible thanks to unwavering international solidarity, in particular from the governments and peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean who placed the United States in an unsustainable position of isolation. Strongly united, “like silver in the bedrock of the Andes,” as our national hero José Martí said in his essay “Our America,” Latin America and the Caribbean demanded a change in policy towards Cuba. This regional demand was made unequivocally clear at the Summits of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago in 2009 and in Cartagena, Colombia in 2012, when every country in the region unanimously and categorically demanded the lifting of the blockade and our country’s participation in the 7th Hemispheric Meeting in Panama in 2015 when a Cuban delegation, led by Raúl, attended for the first time.

Since the announcements of December 2014, Cuba and the United States have taken steps toward improving the bilateral context.

On July 20, 2015, diplomatic relations were officially reestablished along with the commitment to develop them on the basis of respect, cooperation, and the observance of the principles of international law.

Two meetings between the countries’ Presidents have taken place, as well as exchanged visits by ministers and other contacts between high ranking officials. Cooperation in various areas of mutual benefit are advancing and new opportunities for discussion have opened up, allowing for dialogue on issues of bilateral and multilateral interest, including those about which we have different conceptions.

The U.S. President will be welcomed by the Government of Cuba and its people with the hospitality which distinguishes us and he will be treated with all consideration and respect as befits a Head of State.

This will be an opportunity for the President to directly observe a nation immersed in its economic and social development and in improving its citizens’ well being. Our peoples enjoy rights and they can exhibit achievements which are only dreams for many of the world’s countries, achievements that have been attained despite the limitations derived from our condition as an underdeveloped, blockaded country, something that has earned us international recognition and respect.

In their joint statement released in Havana in February, internationally renowned figures Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill described this island as “a symbol of hope of the New World.” French President François Hollande recently affirmed that “Cuba is respected and heard throughout Latin America,” and he praised the country’s capacity for resistance in the face of the most difficult tests. South African leader Nelson Mandela always had words of profound gratitude for Cuba. On July 26, 1991in Matanzas he said: “We in Africa are accustomed to being victims of other countries who want to seize our territory or subvert our sovereignty. In the history of Africa, there is no other example of a people (like the Cuban people) who have come to the defense of one of us.”

Obama will find himself in a country which actively contributes to regional and world peace and stability and which shares not what we have left over with other peoples, but the modest resources we possess, making solidarity an essential element of our identity, and for humanity’s well being, one of the fundamental objectives of our international policy as Martí imparted to us.

He will also have the opportunity to meet a noble, friendly, dignified people who possess a high degree of patriotism and national unity and who have always struggled for a better future, despite the adversities we have been obliged to face.  The President of the United States will be received by a revolutionary people with deeply-rooted political culture, the result of a long tradition of struggle for their true, definitive independence, first against Spanish colonialism and later against imperialist domination by the United States; it has been a struggle in which our best sons and daughters have shed their blood and faced all manner of risks. We are a people who will never renounce the defense of our principles and the vast work of the Revolution, unhesitatingly following the examples of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, José Martí, Antonio Maceo, Julio Antonio Mella, Rubén Martínez Villena, Antonio Guiteras and Ernesto Che Guevara, among many others.

We are also a people united by historical, cultural and affective ties with United States citizens, one of whom is the emblematic figure of the writer Ernest Hemingway who received the Nobel Prize for Literature for his novel set in Cuba. We are people who show our gratitude to people from the United States who like Thomas Jordan [1], Henry Reeve, Winchester Osgood [2] and Frederick Funston [3] fought with the Liberation Army in Cuba’s wars of independence against Spain; and those who in more recent times have opposed aggression against Cuba, such as Reverend Lucius Walker who defied the blockade to bring solidarity and help to our people and who supported the return of the boy Elián González and the Cuban Five to our homeland. We learned from Martí to admire the homeland of Lincoln and to repudiate Cutting [4].

It is worthwhile to recall the words of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, on September 11, 2001, when he affirmed: “Today is a day of tragedy for the United States. You know very well that hatred for the U.S. people has never been sowed here. Perhaps precisely because of its culture and lack of complexes, feeling fully free, with a homeland and no master, Cuba is the country where U.S. citizens are treated with more respect. We have never preached any kind of national hate or anything seeming to be fanatical, that is why we are so strong, because we base our conduct on principles, on ideas, and we treat every U.S. citizens who visits us with great respect, and they perceive this.”

These are the people who will receive President Obama, proud of their history, their roots, their national culture, and feeling confident that a better future is possible. A nation that assumes with serenity and determination the current stage of relations with the United States, a nation that recognizes both the opportunities and the unresolved problems between the two countries.

The President of the United States’ visit will be an important step in the process of normalization of bilateral relations. It must be remembered that Obama, just as James Carter previously, has decided to work towards the normalization of ties with Cuba by making use of his executive powers, and he has consequently taken concrete action in this direction.

Nevertheless, in order to attain normalization there is a long and difficult road ahead of us; it will require solving key issues which have accumulated over more than five decades and aggravated the confrontational nature of relations between the two countries. Such problems are not resolved overnight, or with a Presidential visit.

To normalize relations with the United States, it is imperative that the economic, commercial, financial blockade which causes the Cuba people such hardship and is the principal obstacle to our country’s development be lifted.

We must acknowledge President Obama’s reiterated position that the blockade must be eliminated and his calling on Congress to lift it. This is also a demand supported by the growing majority of the American public, and almost unanimously supported by the international community which on 24 occasions, in the United Nations General Assembly, has approved the Cuban resolution entitled “The necessity of putting an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America on Cuba.”

The U.S. President has taken steps to modify the implementation of some aspects of the blockade; this is positive.  High-ranking officials in his administration have said that others are being studied. Nevertheless, it has not been possible to implement a good portion of these measures given their limited reach and because of the continuing existence of other regulations, and due to the intimidating effect of the blockade as a whole, which has been strictly enforced for 50 years.

Paradoxically, the government on the one hand adopts these measures and on the other it intensifies the sanctions against Cuba which affect the daily lives of our people.

Reality continues to show that the blockade is being maintained; it is also rigorously enforced and has notable extra-territorial scope, producing a deterring effect on companies and banks in the United States and in other countries.  An example of this are the multi-million dollar fines which continue to be levied on U.S. companies and banking institutions, and those of other nationalities, for having relations with Cuba; the denial of services and the blocking of financial operations of international banks with our country; and the freezing of legitimate transfers of funds to and from Cuba, including those in currencies other than the U.S dollar.

The Cuban people hope that the U.S. President’s visit will serve to consolidate his will to be actively involved in a full-blown debate in Congress to lift the blockade and, in the meantime, that he will  continue to use his executive prerogatives to modify its application as much as possible, without the need for legislative action.

Other issues which are damaging Cuban sovereignty must also be resolved in order to achieve normal relations between the two countries. Territory occupied by the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo, against the will of our government and people, must be returned to Cuba, to respect the unanimous wish of Cubans that has been expressed for over 100 years. Interventionist programs, intended to provoke destabilizing situations and changes in our country’s political, economic, social order must be eliminated. The “regime change” policy must be definitively interred.

At the same time, the aim of fabricating domestic political opposition, supported by money from U.S. contributors, must be abandoned. An end must be put to the aggressive radio and television broadcasts attacking Cuba in open violation of international law, and the illegal use of telecommunications for political purposes, recognizing that the goal is not to influence Cuban society but to put technology at the service of development and knowledge.

The preferential migratory treatment our citizens receive, in accordance with the Cuban Adjustment Act and the “wet foot-dry foot” policy, causes losses in human lives and encourages illegal emigration and trafficking in persons, as well as generating problems for third countries. This situation must be changed, just as the “parole” program for Cuban medical professionals must be canceled since it deprives the country of human resources vital to our people’s, health and affects the intended beneficiaries of Cuban cooperation with nations needing our support. Likewise, the policies which require Cuban athletes to break their ties with Cuba in order to play in U.S. leagues must change.

These policies of the past are incongruous with the new stage which the United States government has initiated with our country. All of them were established prior to the administration of President Obama but he can modify some of them with executive decisions and entirely eliminate others.

Cuba has taken on the building of a new relationship with the United States, fully exercising its sovereignty and committed to its ideals of social justice and solidarity. Nobody can claim that to do so we must renounce any one of our principles, concede one single inch in their defense or abandon what our Constitution declares: “Economic and diplomatic relations with any other state can never be negotiated under aggression, threats or coercion by a foreign power.”

Not even the slightest doubt can be harbored in regards to Cuba’s unconditional commitment to its revolutionary and anti-imperialist ideals and its foreign policy in favor of the world’s just causes, the defense of peoples’ self-determination and our traditional support for our sister countries.

As the latest Declaration of the Revolutionary Government has declared, our solidarity is, and will always be, immutable with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the government led by President Nicolás Maduro, and with the Bolivarian, Chavista people who are struggling to find their own path and who confront systematic destabilization attempts and unilateral sanctions established by the unfounded, unfair U.S. Executive Order of March 2015, condemned throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The announcement made this past March 3 to extend the so-called “National Emergency” and sanctions is unacceptable, direct intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela and its sovereignty. The Executive Order must be abolished: this will be Cuba’s firm, ongoing demand.

As Army General Raúl Castro stated: “We will not renounce our ideals of independence and social justice, nor will we surrender even a single one of our principles or concede one millimeter in the defense of our national sovereignty.  We will not allow ourselves to be pressured in regards to our internal affairs. We have won this sovereign right with great sacrifices and at the cost of great risks.”

Once again we reiterate that we have reached this point as a result of our convictions and because we have reason and justice on our side.

Cuba reaffirms its will to advance in its relations with the United States on the basis of respect for the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and the principles of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by the region’s heads of state and government, which include absolute respect for independence, sovereignty and the inalienable right of every state to choose its own political, economic, social and cultural system without interference of any kind; as well as equality and reciprocity.

Cuba reiterates its full disposition to maintain respectful dialogue with the government of the United States and to develop relations of civilized coexistence.  Coexistence does not mean being obliged to renounce the ideas in which we believe and which have brought us thus far, or our socialism, our history or our culture.
The profound conceptual differences between Cuba and the United States in political models, social justice, international relations, world peace and stability, among others, will persist.

Cuba defends the indivisibility, interdependence and universality of civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights. We are convinced that it is an obligation of governments to defend and guarantee the right to health, education, social security, equal pay for equal work, the rights of children, as well as the right to food and development. We reject the political manipulation and double standards relating to human rights, which must end. Cuba has signed 44 international instruments on this subject, while the United States has only committed to 18, and so it has much to share, to defend, and to demonstrate.

In regards to our ties with the United States, both countries should respect their differences and create a relationship which is beneficial for both our peoples.

Regardless of the progress which can be achieved in ties with the United States, the Cuban people will continue to move forward. With our own efforts and proven capacity and creativity, we will continue to work for the country’s development and for the wellbeing of Cubans. We will not desist in our demand for the blockade, which has caused and causes so much harm, to be lifted. We will persevere in the process of updating the socio-economic model we have chosen, and in building prosperous, sustainable socialism in order to consolidate the achievements of the Revolution.

A path that has been chosen in sovereignty and which will surely be reaffirmed by the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, with Fidel and Raúl victorious.

This is the Cuba which will respectfully welcome President Obama.

[1] Major General, head of the Liberation Army’s General Staff (1869).
[2] Major. Killed in combat during the siege of Guáimaro, October 28, 1896.
[3] Artillery Colonel, under the command of Calixto García.
[4] A figure who in 1886 promoted hate and aggression against Mexico.