CEPRID

CUBA : Tell the President

Sunday 8 August 2010 by CEPRID

Julie Webb-Pullman

“Tell the President (and I cannot stress this too strongly) that I seriously hope that Cuba and the United States can eventually sit down in an atmosphere of good will and of mutual respect and negotiate our differences.” – Fidel Castro.

No, this is not a recent message from Fidel to Obama, but one he sent to President Johnson in February 1964 – although the sentiments undoubtedly remain the same.(1)

Year after year, decade after decade, Cuba has reiterated its willingness to ‘normalise’ relations with the United States, based on mutual respect and the right to self-determination.

Declassified FBI and CIA files over the years have revealed that Cuba has continued to keep the door open despite some 638 attempts by the CIA and CIA-backed Cuban exiles to assassinate the Cuban President, and decades of US-based terrorist attacks against Cuban interests at home and abroad.(2)

More surprisingly, declassified documents also reveal that US presidents from J.F. Kennedy to Jimmy Carter sought to change the sanctions policy against Cuba. (3) While Kennedy was assassinated only days after he sought dialogue with Cuba, Carter became the first president to order the normalization of relations, with the issuing of Presidential Directive / NSC-6, Secret, "Cuba", March 15, 1977. (4)

Even Kissinger authorised a project for changing U.S. policy and negotiating with Cuba (5), and initiated contact with Cuba through intermediaries to begin exploratory talks. (6)

It seems not much has changed since the State Department over-ruled Robert Kennedy’s 1963 attempt to lift Eisenhower’s travel ban to Cuba (7) and the CIA continually thwarted other efforts to end the “perpetual hostility in U.S.-Cuban relations." (8)

While Cuba’s release of 15 detainees earlier this month, and a promise to release more, has been acknowledged in many countries as a very significant goodwill gesture, the United States has been slow to move.

And remember, these were not “political prisoners” but people who admitted being paid by the United States to commit treason, and who, unlike the many genuine political prisoners still held by the US in Guantanamo, were tried and convicted in open judicial processes.

Today marks the 57th anniversary of the commencement of the Cuban Revolution – and the celebration of its survival against enormous odds.

As Cubans look back over their incredible achievements of the last half-century, and congratulate themselves and their leaders on the example they have set not only within their own country but to the entire world, President Obama could perhaps look not only to the Vatican and Spain as examples of what can be achieved with respectful dialogue, but also to his own country’s archives.

Kissinger aides told the Cubans in 1975, “The United States is able and willing to make progress on such issues even with socialist nations with whom we are in fundamental ideological disagreement, as the recent progress in our relations with the Soviet Union and the Peoples’ Republic Of China has shown.” (9)

Obama could do a lot worse than learn from history – especially while Fidel’s invitation remains open.

(1) http://www.gwu.edu/ nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB103/640212.pdf point 4

(2) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/aug/03/cuba.duncancampbell2 and http://www.granma.cu/miami5/ingles/0105.html

(3) http://www.gwu.edu/ nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB103/index.htm

(4) http://www.gwu.edu/ nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB269/index.htm

(5) http://www.gwu.edu/ nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB269/doc05.pdf

(6) http://www.gwu.edu/ nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB269/doc06.pdf

(7) http://www.gwu.edu/ nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB158/index.htm

(8) http://www.gwu.edu/ nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB269/index.htm

(9) http://www.gwu.edu/ nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB269/doc06.pdf


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