Access to International Banks: Cuba’s True Objective in These Negotiations / Juan Juan Almeida

Josefina Vidal, Cuban negotiator with the US

 

Juan Juan Almeida, 25 May 2015– For many, it was a surprise that the United States and Cuba should conclude its new round of negotiations without achieving the expected agreement, the reopening of new embassies–more so when both delegations described the recently concluded meeting as “respectful, professional, and highly productive.”

Thus does the Island’s government operate; it maneuvers with painstaking craftiness any process that entails sociopolitical transcendence for the country.

I hope (although at times I doubt it) that the US State Department and US authorities involved in these proceedings clearly understand that not Josefina Vidal–member of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party and director for the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations director for relations with the United States–nor José Ramón Cabañas, chief of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, nor any other member of the Cuban delegation, have decision-making authority. They are simply employees who have been given precise instructions: explore the actions and reactions of their counterparts, buy time, maximize media coverage (which they easily do because all media around the world are covering the big story), and show toughness.

For the Cuban government–sorry, for the 7 or 8 individuals who today comprise the center of power–reestablishing relations with the US is simply the “rice” in the chicken-and-rice pot. The compass of this process–the “chicken” of this meal–is directed towards two goals: removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and press for the end of the “Embargo.” All the rest is just part of the same theater showcasing well-rehearsed acting.

It is not hard to understand that to remove Cuba from that list will unleash an immediate effect on the banking institutions, which will cease to view the largest of the Antilles through the “anti-terrorist lens” and, concurrently, erase the shock of receiving a sanction for doing business with Cuba.

I cannot state with certainty that as of today our country conforms to the definition of a state that sponsors or supports terrorism. Although I have heard Fidel and Raúl denounce terrorist acts such as that visited on Charlie Hebdo;  and a high ranking Cuban military officer describe how a representative of these terrorist groups lives a comfortable and relaxed life, very near to the residence of the Spanish ambassador; and a good friend recount an amusing anecdote in which one day, through no fault of his own, he found himself turned into a gift to the Middle East, where he was presented to a group of Islamic leaders with hyper-radical tendencies who, through an interpreter, wanted to know personal stories about his father who, even in death, continues to be an icon of history, hysteria and schizophrenia.

The end of the Embargo will open to the country the doors to credit and funding and, with them, the real possibility of buying and exporting weapons, services, information, medical personnel, medicines, or any other product–harmful or not to world peace.

I have no doubt that Cuba will emerge from this controversy in a ready mode, will reestablish its relations with the US, and, if the wind continues to blow in the same direction, the Embargo will be lifted. Is this right? I do not believe so, but I learned to be pragmatic because, as my grandmother used to say after lighting up the same cigar butt for the fourth time, “In this world there is no justice, God forgives everyone.”

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

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~ by Juan Juan Almeida on June 24, 2015.

 
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