"Biden, unwilling to ease the blockade on Cuba," Cuban ambassador

"Biden, unwilling to ease the blockade on Cuba," Cuban ambassador
Fecha de publicación: 
24 February 2022
Imagen principal: 

Cuba faces a great challenge: to endorse the revolution as a viable project for its people. The debate is on and the current context demands to boost the economy of the country in order to benefit its entire population.

The ambassador of the Republic of Cuba in Mexico, Marcos Rodríguez Costa, admits that the journey will not be easy given the adversities facing the island: the negative effects of Covid-19; the prolonged economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by the U.S. nearly 60 years ago; the counterrevolutionary groups based in Miami and "internal challenges" of the Cuban system itself.

In an interview granted to La Jornada, he analyzes the situation in his country, last July’s protests, the role Cuba plays in continental geopolitics and its historical relationship with Mexico.

He states that the revolution –undertaken and consolidated by the determination of Fidel Castro– "has been viable for our people" and its renewal process must be led by those who have lived and defended it, and not the sectors "that respond to a foreign model."

Rodríguez Costa, with a long diplomatic career that includes assignments especially in Cuban representations in Africa and the Middle East, began his new mission in Mexico at the beginning of December 2021.

In the first interview he grants to a Mexican media outlet, he addresses to the blockade, its economic and social effects, and does not see Joe Biden's willingness to ease it. He also states that the migratory "breach" of the United States authority to grant 20,000 annual visas to Cuban nationals encourages irregular migration.

-What does it mean for Cuba its relationship with Mexico?

-It's a historical relationship. There are converging points: the identity between our peoples, socially, culturally, academically, politically. We do not forget that in the 1960s, at the beginning of the Revolution, due to pressure exerted by the United States, almost all the governments in Latin America turned their backs on Cuba, and Mexico assumed a dignified position and stood by Cuba, as Mexico has been doing so as part of that absolute worldwide rejection to the U.S. blockade. For Cuba, the relationship with Mexico is very important. It is one of our main points of trade and economic exchange in the region, and much more can be done, by the way. Cuba is interested in Mexican investors participating in the economic development of our country.

“Today, we are living in a very special time. We must highlight the statements that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and other leaders of the country have delivered in favor of Cuba. Another factor is the shared Latin American vision. In our case, based on the historical stance of our great leader Fidel Castro, who was always on the side of Latin America.”

–Do you see a scenario for a regional counterweight to the U.S. vision?

–It is a time of many definitions for the region. The pandemic has been very challenging and, despite the negative effects, it gives us the option of generating unity. Several organizations, such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, are today reference point in this purpose. Always respecting each country’s political stance as well as their sovereignty, independence and self-determination, but on the way to creating unity from diversity. The current geopolitics in the world demands that Latin America –which represents 700 million people from the Rio Grande to Patagonia— be one.



—What impacts does the U.S. blockade have on Cuba? Did it get worse with Covid-19?


–All U.S. presidents have had the opportunity to take steps to alleviate its impact. The blockade is anchored in a congressional decision in the United States and it is not easy to suddenly end it, but any president has prerogatives that can help mitigate it. In the period of President Barack Obama, the first attempts at rapprochements were made, which showed that even with the ideological differences we could sit down and talk. But today, the impacts of the pandemic have been aggravated by an opportunistic tightening of the blockade. Donald Trump implemented 200 measures against Cuba that worsened the situation and the new U.S. government maintains them. It has had an economic impact on us, on tourism, on the nutrition of our people.

“The pandemic opened up opportunities. We developed five vaccine candidates, two: Abdala and Soberana, with effective results. In Cuba, we have nearly 90 percent coverage and due to its efficiency, infections by Omicron have nothing to do with those worldwide. We are a Latin American country that managed to develop antidotes. It has also been an opportunity to confirm our solidarity with the world: Cuban medical brigades went to Latin America, Asia, and Africa to fight the pandemic.”

–Facing this, what is the challenge for Cuba?

-The main challenge for Cuba, as for a large number of developing countries, is the economic progress of their respective countries to achieve benefits for the people. Another aspiration is the respect for the will, the sovereignty and the path the Cuban people determined for the country […]. The Revolution has granted 60 years of improvement for our people, the quality of health care in Cuba, the education, the social security and the level of freedom that our people have felt through all this time, with its ups and downs. It does not mean that the whole nation is in favor of the Revolution, but there is a majority of people supporting the political system in Cuba. Insomuch as the nature of the Empire, colonialism, and the attempts to impose their will on our continent intensifies, the more we believe that the Cuban revolutionary model has been viable.

We have been accused of wanting to 'export' the revolution, and for Cuba, it is the right model, but we do not force another country to embrace it. Freedom, independence, sovereignty, are sacred elements.

-Does it respond to young people, many of the dissidents in the demonstrations were young people?

-I think we must see it at a different perspective. Throughout the world, young people are a sector of the population that by nature, questions and thinks differently, and it is no different in Cuba. Our young people grouped in their school, in their university, today are an example. The other has been different, we have explained it, today there are several factors such as the pandemic, the international situation and the tightening of the blockade that affect the economic and social situation in Cuba. What happened in July, with the protests, was that the counterrevolution outside Cuba, mainly in Miami, tried to take advantage of that situation to influence the country and create a situation (of crisis). But we have shown that Cuba is at peace.

“Fidel himself said it at the time, that everything required a change. Cuba is taking important steps in this regard. We have approached the economic actors, small and medium-sized companies were created, the Family Code is being revised. They are new things. Cuba is adapting to the world and our people are feeling it. When we analyze which sector led the demonstrations, we see that there were criminals as they attacked properties. They vandalized. The actions of justice (against detainees) have been made transparent and in Cuba, as in the entire world, these acts must be sanctioned.

“It is a very difficult time for our people and, therefore, the Cuban people are immersed in pushing the Revolution forward. It is not only the blockade and the pandemic, they are also internal handicaps that President Miguel Díaz-Canel has recognized. There may be dissidence, but individuals involved in such "dissidence" do not respond to a national project, but to a foreign one that dreams of another kind of society; it can't be like that. You have to live the Revolution to be able to defend it. The position of the Revolution aligns with those who want the independence and freedom of our country.”

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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