Back to square one for Cuba » Manila Bulletin News

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By Gemma Cruz Araneta

Gemma Cruz Araneta

Cuba, our half-sister, is living dangerously again, like we are; she is bracing herself again, preparing for the worst; she has been shoved back to square one, it seems. Last June 16, President Donald Trump delivered a vitriolic anti-Cuban speech at a theater in Miami. With  the stroke of a pen, he obliterated the rapprochement brought about by the Obama administration in December, 2014. Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama had mutually announced the renewal of diplomatic relations and the normalization of bilateral relations between their two countries.

Lamentably, President Trump’s “National Security Presidential Memorandum” abrogates even  people-to-people exchanges in the fields of private education, travel and tourism, as well as in trade and commerce.  Strictly prohibited are financial transactions between US companies and Cuban enterprises   linked to the Armed Revolutionary Forces and intelligence and security services.

It is not surprising that President Trump should justify his “memorandum” by accusing the Cuban government of human rights violations. As if there are none committed in the USA, according to the official statement of Cuba which cites  “numerous cases of murders, brutality, and abuses by the police, particularly against the African-American population; the right to life is violated as a result of the deaths caused by fire arms.” Cuba’s statement also mentions child labor, racial discrimination, loss of health insurance of 23 million citizens (alluding to Obamacare), marginalization of migrants, and also the avowed  “attempt to put up walls that discriminate against and denigrate neighbor countries,”  plus  the abandonment of “international commitments to preserve the environment and address climate change….”

Most glaring of all human rights abuses are those committed by the United States in other countries, “such as the arbitrary detention  of prisoners in the territory illegally occupied by the US Naval Base in Guantánamo,  extrajudicial executions, and the death of civilians caused by drones; as well as the wars unleashed against countries like Iraq… with disastrous consequences for the peace, security, and stability in the Middle East.”

President Trump abrogated his predecessor’s policy entitled “Normalization of Relations between the United States and Cuba,” issued on 14 October 2016, which conceded that the blockade is an obsolete policy that should be lifted. In a way, it recognized Cuba’s independence and sovereignty and the  legitimacy of her government. However, according to Cuba’s statement, Obama’s intentions were not all that pure, the lifting of the embargo was meant to trigger changes in the economic, political and social systems of Cuba, for the benefit of the USA.

The official statement also said: “Once again, the US Government resorts to coercive methods of the past when it adopts measures aimed at stepping up the blockade, effective since February, 1962, which not only causes harm and deprivations to the Cuban people and is the main obstacle to our economic development, but also affects the sovereignty and interests of other countries, which arouses international rejection.”

Trump’s  measures “impose additional obstacles to the already very limited opportunities that the US business sector had in order to trade with and invest in Cuba.  Likewise, those measures restrict even more the right of US citizens to visit our country, [just when] the US Congress, echoing the feelings of broad sectors of that society, calls not only for an end to the travel ban, but also for the elimination of the restrictions on  trade with Cuba….”

The Cuban government believes that  the US president is  once again “ ill-advised, is taking decisions that favor the political interests of an irrational minority of Cuban origin in the state of Florida which, out of petty motivations, does not give up its intent to punish Cuba and its people for exercising the legitimate and sovereign right of being free and having taken the reins of their own destiny….” (more)

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