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Cubans and Yankees: The End of Anti-Imperialism and Anti-Communism (La Jornada, Mexico)


"It is time to bury the last shovelful of Cold War dirt and the highfalutin rhetoric that came with it. If relations between the two countries continue to progress, there are two ghosts that seem destined to their graves, even if of course we continue to hear their echoes: anti-imperialism and anti-communism. The far-right Tea Party in the United States and the champions of 21st century socialism will beat these ghosts as long as the racket brings them political gain."


By Sergio Ramirez*



Translated By Miguel Gutierrez


April 16, 2015


Mexico – La Jornada – Original Article (Spanish)

It's already commonplace to say that the meeting between Barack Obama and Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas in Panama is a milestone. It is of course, and it will have implications for the entire continent as it changes the nature of relations between Latin America and the United States - giving a new tone. It is time to bury the last shovelful of Cold War dirt and the highfalutin rhetoric that came with it.


If relations between the two countries continue to progress, there are two ghosts that seem destined to their graves, even if of course we continue to hear their echoes: anti-imperialism and anti-communism. The far-right Tea Party in the United States and the champions of 21st century socialism will beat these ghosts as long as the racket brings them political gain.


The well-considered words of Raul Castro exonerating Obama for the imperialist aggression of the past and qualifying him as an honest man were fittingly complemented by a comment of Obama himself, who said: "Our nations had to break free from the old arguments, the old grievances that had too often trapped us in the past; that we had a shared responsibility to look to the future … This shift in U.S. policy represents a turning point for our entire region."



It is an approach with promise, but for it to become irreversible will require some of the planned steps to happen right away, such as U.S. removal of Cuba from its list of terrorist countries and a restoration of full diplomatic relations. That would open the way for a lessening of the economic blockade and a situation that there would be no turning back from for Obama's White House successor - important if that successor comes from radical Republican ranks.


The argument of those who oppose the current understanding is that Cuban government is giving very little in terms of human rights and democratic freedom while all the concessions are to be made by the United States. In turn, however, it is well known that the fundamental concession that Cuba is hoping for, a lifting of the blockade, is not in Obama's hands. In Congress in Washington there is still a long way to go to reach a majority on the measure. Raul Castro already knows that, hence his insistent repetition that much patience will be required.


Much patience indeed. When we speak of human rights and civil liberties in Cuba, these are not mere concessions but issues concerning the nature of the political system: the power of a single party, the control of civil society and a monopoly on media and communications. This is where Raul Castro has been intransigent in stating that Cuba will not change its system, and then everything seems to be at an impasse.


But there will be no such roadblocks from now on. Approaching the end of his last term, Obama wants the opening to Cuba as a visible part of his presidential legacy. On the other side of the negotiating table he faces a historic leader of the Cuban Revolution well over 80 years of age who has announced that he will not seek a new term as leader of the regime. Raul Castro represents a generation that is on its way out. There will therefore necessarily be a generational shift in Cuba, which will have leaders who have nothing to do with the Castro family. Whether these new leaders will abide by political orthodoxy and cling to the idea of a single party remains to be seen.


Surely things are being carefully planned to ensure that those who are handed power don't depart from the traditional line and continue to tolerate economic openness, but not political opening. However, history has repeatedly shown that the future cannot be dictated so that plans are observed to the letter. Once one generation gives way to another or seeks to manage events from the grave or the deathbed, it depends on more than a willingness to be preserved in formaldehyde, but also a host of elements that collide and intersect: new conceptions of world, new needs, new realities and abrupt environmental change. The old dialectic is unable to cope.


Generational change becomes critical to breaking down barriers and leaving intransigence to the aged. So it will be with the Cubans inside and out - those living on the island and those in Florida. The young never want to be handed the past only to have to incessantly repeat its mistakes. They have their own ideas about the future, of breaking out of ideological constraints, particularly in a country like Cuba where in so many ways, people have had to be creative, starting with the arts - film, music, literature, painting; and certainly economics, as entrepreneurs since the operation of small businesses were permitted and having learned with private initiative to move in the forbidden waters of yesteryear.

Posted By Worldmeets.US


Then there is the issue of geographical proximity, which has played such an essential and often negative role in Cuba's modern history. As you will recall, with Cuba and the United States just 90 miles from one another, there was a recurring theme in the speech of the two parties during the Cold War: governments in the United States would point to the danger of having a Communist country so close to its continental territory; and Cuban leaders spoke with pride of carrying out a revolution in the very whiskers of Uncle Sam. Now, with a lifting of barriers, that proximity will certainly be a positive element.


That is why the meeting in Panama between leaders of two countries so long joined in confrontation is truly historic. By removing the bolts from the gates of the future, they have opened the way to something truly novel.


*Sergio Ramírez Mercado is a Nicaraguan writer and intellectual, a former member of Nicaragua's Government Junta of National Reconstruction and former vice president under President Daniel Ortega from 1985-1990.


Facebook: escritorsergioramirez


Twitter: @sergioramirezm




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