Cuba’s Tourism Economy: The Boon and the Dilemma

Taken from: Americas Society/ Council of Americas 

 

la-relacion-eeuu-cuba-2020025w280The world is scurrying to the Pearl of the Antilles, Cuba’s nineteenth-century nickname. And few are more eager than Americans. After the U.S.-Cuba rapprochement began in December 2014, the island received a half million more international travelers in 2015 than it did the year prior, a 17.4 percent jump. Overall, more than 3.5 million people visited Cuba last year, and U.S. visitors increased the most, by 76.7 percent.

The figure could well be higher in 2016, now that 700 Americans at a time can visit the island on cruises, such as the Carnival Fathom Adonia ship that made a maiden voyage this week. While smaller U.S. ferry services are still seeking approval to operate between Florida and Cuba, commercial airlines have been cleared as of February for a total of 110 daily round trips to Cuba, which could begin as early as September.

Dibujo

The Boon: 

Continue reading “Cuba’s Tourism Economy: The Boon and the Dilemma”

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American embassy in Havana offers grants

eeuu_embajada_cubaTaken from : Along the Malecon

Tomado de : The U.S. Embassy in Havana is passing out grants ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 to individuals and organizations based in Cuba and non-profit organizations in the U.S.
Two project announcements, reproduced below, say that “projects that are inherently political in nature” aren’t likely to be funded.
I doubt this means that the State Department and the Agency for International Development have ended other more expansive programs that are political. But the goal of these embassy projects is to strengthen U.S.-Cuba bilateral relations.
Applications for the embassy projects “will be considered on a rolling basis up until August 15, 2016,” the announcement said.
All projects must start before Sept. 30. See below for details:

Continue reading “American embassy in Havana offers grants”

THE NEXT PRESIDENT WILL SUPPORT ENDING THE EMBARGO. BUT WHY WAIT?

Friends,

If there was a chance that the incoming administration would be in favor of keeping the embargo, as of this week, that chance was effectively reduced to zero.

Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich both dropped out of the GOP primary race this week, and with them went any remaining opposition to normalizing relations with Cuba among presidential candidates. Donald Trump has spoken in measured support for normalization, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders are all in favor of a full opening.

In Washington, the influence of the pro-embargo hardline will only lessen in the months ahead. Sen. Marco Rubio, the most prominent anti-engagement member of the Senate, is leaving office at the end of his term. Cruz will return to the Senate, but the notoriously unpopular senator’s odds of marshalling his colleagues in support of the embargo are about as good as, uh…Lucifer’s.

When it comes to current Cuba developments on the Hill, members should take note of the contrast in directions between the pro- and anti-engagement coalitions. As of last week, Sen. Jeff Flake’s bill to lift the travel ban is now cosponsored by nearly half the Senate, and Rep. Mark Sanford’s counterpart in the House has passed over 120 cosponsors. Meanwhile, the pro-embargo wing—once able to dictate foreign policy to presidential campaigns—has now been reduced to attacking Kim Kardashian for traveling to Cuba. Because demanding an investigation into Beyoncé’s completely legal Cuba trip a few years back was not a sufficiently embarrassing waste of taxpayer dollars.

That is where we are in 2016. One bipartisan coalition in Congress is working on policies that will benefit both the Cuban people and their constituents, while another dwindling one is co-opting the work of late night talk show hosts to attack private citizens for where they choose to travel. So far, the pro-embargo hardline has been able to successfully prevent any further opening to Cuba by peddling the idea that things might turn around with the next administration. We know that now to be a fantasy. For the sake of the Cuban people, it’s time Congressional leadership did as well.

The time to act is now!

 

#Cuba’s Ongoing Resistance to US Ideological War

By: Arnold August

Yoendry Gainsa, 35, a bricklayer, holds his daughter while posing for a photograph in front of the Cuban and U.S. flags in Havana.

Despite thawing relations, Cubans are still resisting the Obama administration’s subversive policy towards the island

Before leaving Montreal for Havana in March 2016 to cover  Obama’s trip to Havana, I wrote an article on Cuba–US relations. Referring to the cultural war to include, in the broad sense of the term, ideological and political aggression, I asked: “The question is, will Obama’s visit to Cuba provide Cubans the opportunity to make headway against the cultural war, or will it allow the US to make inroads? Or are both these scenarios on the horizon?”

My intention at that time was to deal with this question immediately upon my return from Cuba. However, one feature became clear during my stay in Havana and immediately following it. Both in and outside of Cuba, the repercussions of the visit not only continued but were being ramped up. In fact, at the time of writing, a month after the trip, the ideological and political controversies are carrying on. This situation is at present further being fostered by Raúl Castro’s April 16, 2016 Central Report to the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (CPC). He devoted important sections of the Report to the issue of Cuba–US relations.

Disinformation from within Cuba

The Obama visit and its accompanying international media entourage targeted the US, Canada and much of the West. It was characterized to a large extent by pointing, explicitly or implicitly, to what the US President calls the lack of democracy in Cuba. Consequently, the argument follows, there is a lack of respect for human rights, of which civil/political rights take centre stage. This is nothing new, except for one game-changing feature. For the first time since the 1959 Revolution, the US has had the opportunity to carry out this disinformation not from outside Cuba, but rather from within the island.

From anti-US Cuba policy to apologist

For people outside of Cuba, especially in the US and Canada, there is no need to detail this misinformation, as it was everywhere (except for a few exceptions) on TV, on the internet and in printed media. However, there is another feature of this ideological/political aggression that is perhaps not noticeable to many, even though it plays a significant role in encouraging the US Cuba policy. In the above-mentioned article that I wrote just before my departure to Havana, I stated:

“Before December 17, 2014, many commentators [outside of Cuba] had been strongly opposed to the US policy on Cuba. There was a gap between them and Washington. Now the situation has changed. Some of them have become the vanguard of Obama–Cuba policy, forgetting that the US has only changed tactics. They have morphed into apologists of the new policy, which serves to finally achieve its strategic goal of undermining – now from within – the Cuban Revolution.”

During the visit to Havana, I was hoping that this position would be weakened as a result of the overtly (to me, anyways, and to many of my Cuban colleagues and people on the street) arrogant attitude of Obama preaching about democracy and human rights to the Cubans. Much to my surprise, the opposite took place. The US-centric view on democracy and human rights became emboldened among some commentators outside of Cuba and thus even further morphed into US-centrism.

The problem of US-centrism and democracy

This narrow-minded thinking appears to be firmly entrenched in the mind-set to such an extent that the internationally respected outstanding thinker Samir Amin in his classic book Eurocentrism perceptively highlighted a major problem. The ideological/political barrier erected over many centuries by Eurocentrism and its offspring, US-centrism, is very complex and ingrained. It operates, as Samir Amin warns,

“‘without anyone noticing it. This is why many specialists, historians and intellectuals can reject particular expressions of the Eurocentric construct without being embarrassed by the incoherence of the overall vision that results.’”1

For example, while some intellectuals outside of Cuba may distance themselves from some of the most grotesque features of Eurocentrism and US-centrism – such as its shallow claims to be the defenders of a superior political and economic model for the world – they may still fall prey to the main ideological/political underpinnings of the US-centric model.

It is not a question of individuals, but rather the ideological/political position that objectively exists in societies. The only manner to advance a serious resistance to a parochial view on the Cuban political/economic/social system is to take into account two factors. One is that Cuba has its own such system, whose tradition dates back to the mid-19th century to date. It is up to the Cubans to improve it, just as they are now striving to do. Second, irrespective of one’s opinion and analysis of the US political/economic/social system, it is theirs. The system has developed out of its own historical conditions and thus has nothing to do with the Cuban path. The dangers on the horizon result from US aggression based on its centuries-old desire for world domination. It is up to the American people to take up the road of fundamental change, not only for their own good but for the very future of the world. This is bound to take place, as the American people – especially African Americans, youth and intellectuals, in whom I have full confidence – are further waking up.

The progressive alternative press outside of Cuba

Outside of Cuba, the highly charged political atmosphere surrounding the Obama trip sparked widespread and heightened political consciousness. Many progressive people and those on the left are sharpening their anti-imperialist consciousness. They are creatively dissecting the Obama incursion into Cuba with sharp political knives while fully supporting the visit and the Cuban Revolution. This is extremely encouraging.

Cubans on the counteroffensive

What is also very inspiring is the number of Cubans who have confronted the US ideological/political war during and since Obama’s visit. This was expected, as this courageous resistance was initiated following the statements by Obama and Raúl Castro on December 17, 2014 on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of embassies.

On that occasion, Obama confirmed once again that the US is dispensing with openly antagonistic tactics, which did not work, in favour of diplomatic tactics that he hopes will function to finally attain the five-decades long goal of snuffing out the Cuban Revolution and undermining the island’s sovereignty. As a by-product of this rapprochement, the White House, through this new incursion, hopes to elevate itself to a better position to influence events in Latin America – read “regimen change” – by conventional or “soft power” warfare.

The Cuban “word warriors”

The counteroffensive to this in Cuba is not that well known to many foreigners, who may be interested but do not read Spanish. This consistent and long-lasting ideological/political struggle is found especially in blogs and some websites. Among the dozens of examples are the blogs of many well-known revolutionary Cuban writers and academics such as Iroel Sánchez, Elier Ramírez and Estéban Morales, which currently consist of a full compendium of critical articles on Cuba–US relations that have accumulated since December 17, 2014.

Another of these “word warriors” is Luis Toledo Sande. His blog, while not fully devoted to Cuba–US relations since December 17, 2014, has the merit of dealing with controversial issues in the realm of culture. One example is the appearance of American flags in public places in Havana over the last few years and as clothing apparel in a carnival-type fashion. In one of my articles, his analysis of this manifestation of cultural incursion allowed me to expose the complexities of the current situation on the island in the face of the new US policy. Jesús Arboleya is another such writer and academic. His articles on the Cuba–US theme are reproduced in the above-mentioned blogs as well as on the popular website CubaDebate.

CubaDebate, for its part, has been carrying critical articles on the new chapter on Cuba–US relations and – in keeping with its name – provoking debate among its readers. Hundreds of comments from the public are often published in reaction to just a single article. Since December 17, 2014, CubaDebate had featured a section fully devoted to the new Cuba–US relations and has been updated virtually daily, while dealing with other national and international themes. The same applies to Iroel Sánchez’s La pupila insomne, a hotbed for controversial articles.

Confronting the US-centric barrier

Aside from a few exceptions, what they all have in common is to publish articles with a clear opposition to US-centric views on democracy and human rights, even though not all of the pieces deal with this directly. What’s  important, in my opinion, is the ideological outlook as the base from which views on specific political issues flow. I would venture to say that the above-mentioned intellectuals and many others are immune to any US influence on their thinking, action or outlook. There is no way that this cancer can infect these writers and the revolutionaries at the grass-roots and thus eat away at the Cuban political culture from within, as would be the case if it were allowed to flourish.

These intellectuals and many others who are lesser known, even in Cuba, are at the base of this resistance, and they are far from being alone. As the commentators on the blogs themselves often divulge, the comments from the public that are published in response to posts or articles reflect what is being discussed, as they say, “on the street.”

Furthermore, Fidel Castro’s article “Brother Obama”, released on March 29, 2016, provides sustenance and encouragement to all those fighting in the same trench against US unilateral views on democracy, human rights and its own selective and opportunist view of history. The same effect is now resulting from Raúl Castro’s April 16, 2016 Main Report to the 7th CPC Congress. Raúl cautioned that Cuba is not naive about the goal to subvert the Cuban Revolution. To top it off, on April 19, Fidel Castro attended and addressed the closing session of the Congress. His presence further galvanized the militants and the people who later watched it on TV.

This opposition to being gullible is not only present among the leaders. On April 18, it was inspiring to watch some of the proceedings of the CPC Congress on Cuban television. One of the features that characterized the many interventions by the delegates and invited guests was a clear rejection of the Obama administration’s subversive policy toward Cuba. In fact, self-employed workers who were elected delegates also joined this opposition. If Obama had seen these proceedings, his perennial smile would have turned to a severe frown, as it was this very “private sector” that he had hoped to win over as a Trojan horse within Cuba.

It is clear that the CPC, from top down and bottom up, is a bulwark against the US ideological/political offensive. However, the Cubans’ defiance against the US assault in the realm of ideas is not over. For example, not all self-employed workers have the same outlook as expressed by the delegates in the Party congress. The situation among sections of the youth also represents a challenge.

Cuban opposition is gaining ground against the US war on Cuban socialist culture 

Thus, what is the evaluation of the query in my article written before the visit: “The question is, will Obama’s visit to Cuba provide Cubans the opportunity to make headway against the cultural war, or will it allow the US to make inroads? Or are both these scenarios on the horizon?”

My tentative conclusion is that both these frameworks are presently being played out, with Cuban indigenous thinking making the most headway against the US conceptual encroachment.

It would be naive perhaps to deny that Obamamania made some inroads. This is very noticeable in some of the comments left on various posts and articles and from reactions from the street. On the other hand, Obama’s narrative had a boomerang effect. The unexpected result is a very vigorous political debate at the grass roots and among many intellectuals against US preconceived notions that Obama tried to force onto the Cuban socialist political culture.

The depth and breadth of this movement is stronger than anything I have witnessed since I began investigating the Cuban political system in the 1990s. Thus, in Cuba, both these scenarios are being played out. One is the barely veiled naive perspective regarding Obama. The second is the staunch resistance to the US ideological/political war being waged against Cuba. I firmly believe that the balance of forces is in favour of the outlook that is combating the infiltration of US prejudices within Cuban society. They are, however, both evolving within the Revolution, which requires unity based on a dynamic exchange of different opinions. The unwavering resistance to the US war on Cuban thinking is already winning or has even come out victorious.

Cuba’s national hero José Martí wrote in 1895: “War is being waged on us to dominate our thinking, let us fight it by the power of thinking.”

Usher says goodbye to Havana

Renowned US singer Usher went back home on Thursday after having toured several places in Havana as part of the Presidential Committee for the Arts and Humanities.

The famous American rapper sang at the Factory of Cuban Arts –a new arts center known the world over- along with David Mathews and producer Smokey Robinson. The singer thanked the Cuban people for their warmth and said he was impressed at the welcome he received in the town of Regla, which he visited that day.

As part of the US delegation’s program, Usher Raymond, shared with children at Havana’s Miguel Fernández Roig primary school on Wednesday morning. Also part of the group were musician and producer Smokey Robinson, actor Kalpen Suresh Modi, Broadway producer, Margo Lion, violinist Joshua Bell, singer and actor John Lloyd Young, and others. Usher sang “La Guantanamera” and “Cuba que linda es Cuba” along with the primary school children, who were visibly excited about the exchange with the American musicians, actors and producers. Usher also played and joked with the pupils. The artists entered the classrooms to have a direct dialogue with the students and professors and take a first-hand look at the island’s education systems. Joshua Bell, considered one of the most talented violists of times and the owner of a Stradivarius from 1713, played excerpts from a piece by famous German composer, Johan Sebastian Bash.

Following their visit to the school, the delegation went to Finca Vigía Museum, the old resident of Nobel Prize Winner, US writer Ernest Hemingway. The delegation also visited the Fine Arts Museum and had an exchange with officials from the National Music Institute. They also visited the Cuban Music Institute where they exchanged views with Cuban musicians and also visited the Cuban Film Institute sharing with their Cuban colleagues.

The Presidential Committee for the Arts and Humanities made up of White House aides wound up its visit to Cuba to strengthen cultural relations between the two countries.

#U.S. Delegation Visits #Cuba’s University of the Arts

U.S. Delegation Visits Cuba's University of the Arts

A delegation of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities of the United States, made up of some 70 personalities from the cultural sphere of that country, visited Cuba’s University of the Arts (ISA) as part of its official agenda on the Island.

At the center of higher studies, about to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its founding, executives, intellectuals, artists and writers held exchanges with professors and students during a tour of the center.
Margo Lion, theater producer and co-chair of the Presidential Committee, said during a meeting there that coming to the ISA meant an inspiration, since she could observe the interest and respect that Cuba has for its artists and creators.
I think we there can be a wonderful cooperation between our countries and exchange ideas, experiences and opportunities, she added at the end of the tour of the university, which currently has a total of three thousand students in its various pre and postgraduate courses.
We are very grateful for the opportunity to make this trip and visit the University; I think we should do something like this in the United States, concluded the renowned producer of musicals in Broadway, New York.
ISA rector Rolando Gonzalez emphasized the importance of creating cooperation bonds based on respect for the cultural differences of both peoples.
Our countries have many differences, but also have points of contact, and the will to build a future according to the peoples and art is possible, she added at the end of the tour of this artistic center, which in 2015 received about 140 visits of U.S. delegations.
For the next few days the delegation has on its agenda debates with filmmakers, fine art creators, students and other members of Cuba’s civil society.
Institutions like Havana’s Grand Theater, the National Fine Arts Museum and the so-called Factory of Cuban Art, will receive in their halls this advisory body of the White House, which works directly with the main agencies related to culture, as well as with other federal entities and with the private sector.

5 Things You Might Not Know About the Bay of Pigs Invasion

Taken from History.com

A group of Cuban counter-revolutionaries, members of Assault Brigade 2506, after their capture in the Bay of Pigs, Cuba. (Credit:  MIGUEL VINAS/AFP/Getty Images)
A group of Cuban counter-revolutionaries, members of Assault Brigade 2506, after their capture in the Bay of Pigs, Cuba. (Credit: MIGUEL VINAS/AFP/Getty Images)

The Bay of Pigs Invasion, the failed attempt to invade Cuba by a brigade of former Cuban military officers backed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), launched on April, 17, 1961. In an attempt to undermine the communist-leaning government of Fidel Castro, the members of Brigade 2506 launched their attack from their training base in Guatemala, landing at Playa Girón in the Bahía de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs). Overwhelmed by Castro’s forces, the invaders surrendered less than three days later. The failed invasion strengthened Castro’s hold in Cuba and solidified the island’s ties to the Soviet Union, paving the way for 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis. On the heels of President Obama’s historic trip to Cuba—the first by a sitting U.S. president in 88 years—we take a look back at some lesser-known aspects of a much lower point in Cuban-American relations.

1. Brigade 2506, the paramilitary group that led the Bay of Pigs Invasion, took its name from the serial number of one of its members.
Early in 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized the CIA to recruit Cuban exiles living in Miami and train them for an invasion of Cuba. The group that became known as Brigade 2506 was initially 28 members, including 10 former Cuban military officers recruited by Dr. Manuel Artime, head of the Movimiento de Recuperación Revolucionaria (MRR). After training in secret camps in the Florida Everglades as early as March 1960, the growing brigade moved its base to the Sierra Madre in Guatemala, which boasted a similar climate to Cuba and a friendly government. That September, a brigade member named Carlos Rodriguez Santana was killed in a training accident, and his comrades chose to name the brigade after his serial number: 2506.

Map of Cuba, showing the Bay of Pigs. (Credit: Public Domain)
Map of Cuba, showing the Bay of Pigs. (Credit: Public Domain)

2. Part of the invasion plan was an elaborate ruse involving a fake defection to the United States by Cuban pilots—which backfired.
On April 15, 1961, eight B-29 bombers took off from Nicaragua and bombed Cuban military aircraft on the ground, hoping to wipe out Castro’s air force before the planned invasion at Playa Girón. Later that day, two other bombers landed in Miami and Key West, Florida, where their pilots claimed to be Cuban defectors that had participated in the air raids. This drama was supposed to ensure that the attacks appeared to be the work of Cubans only, lending credibility to the U.S. government’s denial of involvement. But reporters noticed the planes’ guns looked as though they had not been fired, and the planes themselves were of a type not typically used in Cuba. The political fallout from this initial bombing raid—which in fact left much of Castro’s air force intact—led President John F. Kennedy to cancel a second planned air strike that might have completed the job.

3. In a bombing raid over Cuba on April 19, 1961, two B-26B bombers were shot down and four Americans—officers in the Alabama Air National Guard—were killed.
Officially, no Americans were supposed to be involved in the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion. Unofficially, a top-secret squadron of pilots flew a last-ditch mission authorized by Kennedy on the morning of April 19, to help defend the overwhelmed invaders at Girón. Due to a misunderstanding over time zones, the bombers arrived an hour before planned escort cover arrived from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, and were shot down by the Cubans. For years, the CIA refused to admit the involvement of these U.S. servicemen in the invasion, even though Castro’s government announced it had the body of an American pilot on the day it shot his plane down. After preserving the remains of the pilot, Captain Thomas Willard Ray, for years, Cuba returned his body to his family in 1979. For its part, the CIA waited until the 1990s—and the declassification of many Bay of Pigs-related documents—to admit Ray’s link to the agency and award him its highest honor, the Intelligence Star.

bay of pigs4. After being publicly interrogated and branded as “yellow worms,” the surviving members of Brigade 2506 were finally released in December 1962, after 20 months in captivity.
During the months after the failed invasion at Playa Girón, Cuba and the United States began negotiating for the release of hundreds of surviving brigadistas, then being held by Castro’s government. In May 1961, Castro proposed exchanging the POWs for 500 large tractors; he later upped his request to $28 million in U.S. dollars. Finally, in December 1962, Castro and the American lawyer James B. Donovan agreed to exchange the 1,113 prisoners for $53 million in food and medicine, to be raised through private donations and corporate sponsorships. (At the time, Donovan was fresh off negotiating the complicated exchange of captured American pilot Francis Gary Powers and for the Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, events that were dramatized in Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed 2015 film “Bridge of Spies,” which starred Tom Hanks as Donovan.) On December 28, President Kennedy received the brigade’s flag in an emotional “welcome back” ceremony at the Orange Bowl in Miami, promising that it “will be returned to this brigade in a free Havana.”

5. Revolutionary leader Che Guevara actually thanked President Kennedy and the United States for the Bay of Pigs invasion.
In August 1961, representatives of all American nations convened at Punta del Este in Uruguay for the Inter-American Economic and Social Council. At a cocktail party, the Cuban revolutionary leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara spoke with Richard Goodwin, then an adviser and speechwriter for President Kennedy. As Goodwin recorded in a secret White House memo declassified in the 1990s, the conversation ranged from the possibility of a “modus vivendi,” or interim settlement, between Cuba and the United States, to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay and the problems facing Castro’s revolutionary government. Near the end of the conversation, Goodwin wrote, Che “went on to say that he wanted to thank us very much for the invasion—that it had been a great political victory for them—enabled them to consolidate—and transformed them from an aggrieved little country to an equal.”

Raul Castro: #Cuba Favors Civilized Coexistence with #US

Cuban President Raul Castro on Saturday ratified his country”s will to build a new type of relation with the United States, on the basis of the art of civilized coexistence and without relinquishing its sovereign principles.

We have the will to develop a respectful dialogue and build a new type of relation with the United States, as never before has existed between the two countries, because we are convinced that it can only bring mutual benefits, noted Raul Castro at the opening session of the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).

When reading the Main Report to the Congress, Raul Castro, who is also the first secretary of the PCC Central Committee, referred to the particularities of the situation resulting from the normalization of relations between Havana and Washington since December 17, 2014.

In that regard, the Cuban president acknowledged the stance of US President Barack Obama to eliminate the economic blockade of Cuba, and noted that concrete results have been made in dialogue and cooperation between Cuba and the United States.

However, Raul Castro noted that the measures announced by Obama shortly before his visit to Havana to introduce some measures in the implementation of the blockade by using executive prerogatives are not enough, although they are positive.

In his speech, the Cuban president recalled that the economic blockade imposed by Washington for more than half a century is still in force with unquestionable intimidating effects of an extraterritorial nature.

In that sense, Raul Castro repeated that in order to move forward in the normalization of relations, the blockade, the main obstacle for the country’s economic development, has to be eliminated, and the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base against the will of the Cuban people and the government has to be returned.

In addition, the president said, the programs aimed at changing Cuba’s political, economic and social system, among other harmful policies that are still in force, must be suspended.

Raul Castro also pointed out that the migration policy continues to be used as a weapon against the Revolution, through practices that do not match the declared change of policy towards Cuba and generate difficulties to third countries.

The president, who noted that Washington’s objectives regarding Cuba are the same and only the way to achieve them have changed, underlined that they cannot make Cuba relinquish the principles of the Revolution or make concessions involving its sovereignty and independence or yield in the defense of its ideals.

Raul Castro also said that “the path to the normalization of bilateral ties is long and complex, but we will advance in the same extent that we are able to put the art of civilized coexistence into practice, that is, to accept and respect the differences, which are and will be numerous and deep.”

In that regard, Raul Castro favored not turning differences into the focus of relations between Cuba and the United States, and called to focus “on what bring us closer and not on what separates us, promoting benefits for both countries.”