Obama should not expect concessions from Havana

barack-obama-sera-premier-presidentThe President of United States Barack Obama, expected from 20 to 22 March in Cuba for a historic visit, will be “welcome” but he should not hope for from Havana political concessions, warned Wednesday the Cuban authorities.

Barack Obama, who will be the first US president to set foot on Cuban soil since Calvin Coolidge in 1928, “will be welcome by the Government of Cuba and its people,” assured the official daily Granma.

“Nobody can say that so far we have to give up one of our principles, give an inch,” stressed however the official organ of the Cuban Communist Party (the only party).

In view of this movement, Havana “reiterates its full readiness to maintain a respectful dialogue with the US government and develop civilized coexistence relations” in the continuity of spectacular rapprochement started there a little over a year.

But “coexist does not mean renouncing the ideas we believe in and that have brought us this far,” insisted the state newspaper.

After a half-century legacy of Cold War tensions, Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro announced December 17, 2014 their determination to bring about a rapprochement. In July, Washington and Havana have restored diplomatic ties, suspended since 1961.

Obama said he would meet with representatives of Cuba illegal opposition and he would raise with the Cuban authorities the sensitive issue of human rights, while stressing that it was not interested in “just validate the status quo. ”

According to Granma, the visit will form part of the “complex process towards normalization (…) that progresses on the sole ground possible and just: respect, equality, reciprocity and recognition of the legitimacy of our government. ”

“Exercise rhetoric”

Questioned by AFP, the dissident Manuel Cuesta Morua, who met Obama at the Americas summit in Panama in April 2015, said that the visit of US president could “help enormously” to improve freedoms in Cuba.

For this opponent, the Granma text is a “rhetorical exercise”. “The Cuban government knows it has to evolve,” but “it can not be displayed as being under pressure from the US,” he said.

Mr. Morua should be part of the dissidents that Mr. Obama will meet in Havana. Contacted by the US Embassy in this regard last week, the dissident told AFP he had not received any confirmation so far for this match.

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