Barack Obama announced the lifting of sanctions against Cuba
Barack Obama did with what was supposed to start his first term: the United States declared its readiness to lift the sanctions against Cuba. In his speech, delivered on 17 December carefully emphasized that the president himself was the author of all initiatives related to normalize relations with Cuba, including the determination of the release of American spies who were in Cuban jails.
Most of the population of the United States interested in this matter – Cuban Americans who are in the United States more than two million. The first generation of immigrants is extremely hard-set against the Castro regime, but the US-Cuban young people are not so clear, and they are likely to perceive positive change.
In the context of actually already started the campaign Democrats try to win over Cuban migrants who often vote, in contrast to other Spanish-speaking citizens of the Republicans. This was particularly relevant in light of the recent statements Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, where most Cuban migrants, their readiness to fight for the presidency.
Another aspect: the current American standards, such as the Torricelli Act and the Helms-Burton Act, provide for sanctions against companies trading with Cuba. In relations with Europe, China, and, above all, Latin American countries it is an irritant. The US is now negotiating with the EU on a transatlantic free trade area , and the preservation of sanctions for violations of the Cuban embargo could have a negative impact, particularly on the Spanish position throughout this initiative.
In fact, now there is a process of consolidation of the Western world, and Cuba made a cautious proposal to become a member. But in any case, the restoration of relations will not be easy, and Cuba will try to continue to earn points on the contradictions between the US and its opponents.
Agency “Foreign Policy” prepared for readers “Heathcliff” full translation of Obama’s speech, in which he announces the change of Cuban politics.
Good afternoon. Today, the United States radically change their relationship with the people of Cuba.
This is one of the most important changes in our policy in the past 50 years. We draw a line under outdated approach that for decades prevented the promotion of our interests, and start towards the normalization of relations between our two countries. Due to these changes, we intend to create new opportunities for Americans and Cubans, and open a new chapter in the life of the peoples of the Americas.
It was a difficult period for the United States and Cuba. I was born in 1961 – after a couple of years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and in just a few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion, which was to lead to the overthrow of his regime. During the following decades, the backdrop for the relations between the two countries was the Cold War confrontation between America and communism. We shared a little over 90 miles. But year after year, ideological and economic barriers between our two countries grew stronger.
Meanwhile, the Cuban exile in the United States has made an enormous contribution to the development of our country – in politics and business, culture and sports. Like other immigrants, Cubans have helped make America better, even if they felt a longing for his native land and families left in the distance. All this is tied to America and Cuba unique relationship of simultaneous closeness and enmity.
Of course, the United States over the past 50 years, supported the fighters for democracy and human rights in Cuba. We did it in the first place due to policies aimed at isolating the island, preventing tourist travel and trade, which the Americans could do in any other place. Although this policy was at the heart of the best of intentions, no other country has not acceded to our sanctions. Their effect was negligible, except that they allow the Cuban government to justify restrictions on the rights of Cubans. Today, Cuba is still controlled by Castro and the Communist Party came to power half a century ago.
Neither the American nor the Cuban people are not benefited from this tough policy that is rooted in the events that took place before most of us were born. It should be noted that for more than 35 years we have relations with China – a much larger country, which is also controlled by the Communist Party. Nearly two decades ago, we restored relations with Vietnam, which fought a war that has cost more American lives than any of the conflicts of the Cold War.
That’s why, when I came to the White House, I promised to review our Cuban policy. Initially, we lifted restrictions for Cuban-Americans, giving them the opportunity to travel and send remittances to their families in Cuba. The correctness of these changes seemed controversial, now no longer in doubt. Cuban Americans are reunited with their families and become the best ambassadors, defending our values. Thanks to these contacts, the younger generation of Cuban-Americans increasingly doubt that Cuba should be closed off from the world.
While I was ready with time to take additional measures obstacle was the five-year wrongful imprisonment in Cuba of a US citizen and USAID subcontractor Alan Gross. For many months, my administration has been negotiating with the Cuban government on the fate of Alan and other mutual concerns. His Holiness Pope Francis turned to me personally and to Cuban President Raul Castro has called us to resolve this problem and solve the problem of the release of three Cuban agents in US prisons for over 15 years.
Today, Alan returned home and finally reunited with his family. Alan was released by the Cuban government on humanitarian grounds. Separately, in exchange for three of its agents Cuba freed one of the most important intelligence agents of the United States have ever had in Cuba, spent in prison for nearly two decades. This man, whose victim was known to only a few, America has provided information that allowed us to open a network of Cuban agents, including already sent to Cuba, as well as other spies in the United States. This person now resides safely on our shores.
Solving the problem with the two men, nicely served as our country, I will try to make the basis of the policy towards Cuba became the interests of the peoples of both countries.
Firstly, I have instructed the Secretary Kerry immediately begin negotiations with Cuba to restore diplomatic relations, which were severed in January 1961. Looking ahead to say that the United States will open an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials to visit Cuba.
Where we can promote common interests, we will do it: in health, migration, the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, and disaster management. The benefits of mutual cooperation between the two countries has been in the past. Cuban Carlos Finlay discovered that mosquitoes are vectors of yellow fever, and his research has helped to Walter Reed in the fight against this disease. Cuba sent hundreds of medical specialists in Africa to combat Ebola, and I believe that the American and Cuban doctors have to work side by side to stop this epidemic.
Where we disagree, we will not be silent: we will continue to work on issues related to democracy and human rights in Cuba. But I believe that we can do more to support the Cuban people and to promote our values in the process of cooperation. In the end, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.
Secondly, I asked Secretary Kerry revise the definition of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism. This would correspond to the facts and the law. Terrorism has changed over the past few decades. At a time when we are focused on the threat posed by “al-Qaeda” and LIH, a state that agrees to our terms and conditions and refuses to use terrorist methods should not be in the same list with the real supporters of terrorists.
Third, we are taking steps to increase tourist traffic, the volume of trade and the information coming, as with Cuba, and in the opposite direction. This is crucial for freedom and openness, and fits my faith in the power of interpersonal interaction. Changes of which I speak today, will facilitate travel by Americans to Cuba, Americans will be able to use US credit and debit cards on the island. No one represents our values better than the American people, and I believe that this contact will eventually give a lot to empower the Cuban people.
I also believe that more resources should be made available to the Cuban people. We will significantly increase the amount of money allowed to send to Cuba, and remove restrictions on remittances, which support humanitarian projects, the Cuban people, as well as the emerging Cuban private sector.
I believe that American companies should not be put at a disadvantage and that the increase in trade will be good for Americans and Cubans. We will promote the authorized transactions (payments using bank cards – approx. “Heathcliff!”) Between the United States and Cuba. US financial institutions will be allowed to open accounts in Cuban financial institutions that facilitate US exporters sell goods to Cuba.
I believe in the free flow of information. Unfortunately, our Cuban sanctions blocked access to technologies used by people around the world. So I requested to take care of the increase of telecommunications links between the US and Cuba. Companies will be able to sell products that will allow Cubans to communicate with the United States and other countries.
These steps can I take as president to change the previous policy. The embargo, in force for decades, now codified in legislation. Since the changes started, I look forward to the participation of the Congress in an honest and serious discussion about lifting the embargo.
Yesterday I spoke with Raul Castro for the release of Alan Gross and the exchange of prisoners and told how we see progress. I expressed my firm conviction that the Cubans are suffering because of restrictions imposed on them. In addition to the return of Alan Gross and his release our scout we welcome the decision of Cuba to release a significant number of prisoners whose cases were my team discussed with the Cuban authorities. We welcome the decision of Cuba to ensure wider access to the internet for its citizens and strengthen cooperation with international organizations such as the UN and the Red Cross in the spread of universal values.
I have no illusions about the continuing obstacles to the freedom of ordinary Cubans. The US believes that Cubans should not be prosecuted, arrested or beaten just because they took advantage of a universal right to freedom of expression, and we will continue to support civil society in Cuba. While Cuba is implementing reforms gradually opening its economy, we continue to believe that the Cuban workers have the right to freely form trade unions and citizens should participate freely in the political process.
In addition, given the history of Cuba, I believe that it will continue a foreign policy that is sometimes sharply at odds with American interests. I do not expect that the changes of which I speak today, will lead to the transformation of Cuban society overnight. But I am convinced that through the policy of engagement we can better protect our values and help the Cuban people in its movement in the XXI century.
Those who oppose the measures announced by me today, I say: I respect your passion and share your commitment to freedom and democracy. The question is how to defend those of our commitments. I do not think it makes sense to keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a new result. In addition, policies are pushing to the collapse of Cuba, not in the interests of America and the Cuban people. Even if it worked – and it has not happened for 50 years – we know from the experience obtained with difficulty that most countries will undertake a major transformation, if they are not citizens were plunged into chaos. We call on Cuba to unlock the potential of 11 million citizens and put an end to unnecessary restrictions in the political, social and economic life. Within this framework, we must not allow tightening of sanctions by the United States, which only weight the burden of Cuban citizens, we seek to help.
America extends a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. Some of you were looking at us as a source of hope, and we will continue to have a beacon of freedom! Others see us as former colonizers who want to control your future. Jose Marti once said: “Freedom – is the right of everyone to be honest.” Today I’m being honest with you. We will never be able to erase our past, but we believe that you should be able to live with dignity and feel independent. Cubans is an expression of everyday life: No es facil – «This is not just.” Today, the United States wants to be a partner that will help make the lives of ordinary Cubans a little easier, more free and prosperous.
Those who support these measures, I want to say “thank you”. In particular, I want to thank His Holiness Pope Francis, personal example shows us the importance of striving for peace, as it should be, rather than just making the world in its current state; Government of Canada, which hosted the talks with the Cuban government; a group of congressmen from both parties who have worked tirelessly over the release of Alan Gross, as well as on a new approach to promote our interests and values in Cuba.
Finally, our shift in Cuban politics takes place in the time of renewal of leadership in North and South America. In April this year we are preparing for the fact that Cuba will join the other nations in the hemisphere Summit of the Americas. But we insist on the fact that participate in it should and representatives of Cuban civil society, because the citizens, not just the leaders shaping the future. And I urge all my fellow leaders remain committed to democracy and human rights, reflected in the Charter of the Inter (Inter-Democratic Charter was adopted on 11 September 2001 the General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Lima, Peru – approx. “Heathcliff!”). Let’s leave behind the legacy of colonialism and communism and tyranny of the drug cartels, dictators and sham elections. The future of peace, security and democratic development is achievable if we will work together – not increasing the power and authority, without providing personal interests and realizing the aspirations of our citizens.
My fellow Americans! Miami is just 200 miles from Havana. Many thousands of Cubans arrived in Miami on airplanes and makeshift rafts; some of the property was only one shirt and hope in the heart. Today, Miami is often called the capital of Latin America. But it is also a truly American city – a place which reminds us that the ideals are more important than the color of the skin or the circumstances of birth. This is a demonstration that the Cuban people can achieve, and openness of the United States to our brothers in the south. Todos somos Americanos («We are all Americans”, in Spanish).
The changes are not easy – and in our own lives and in the life of nations. These changes are even more difficult when we are forced to carry a heavy load of history on their shoulders. But today we decided on these changes, and rightly so! Today, America chooses refusal from the shackles of the past, in order to ensure a better future for the Cuban and American peoples, for all of our hemisphere and the world.
Thank U. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.