Trying to win… and not just the baseball game
|By Orsola Casagrande|
|By JM Arrugaeta|
Havana,March 23: On Tuesday, the last of his days in Havana, President Obama's schedule included the enormous challenge of addressing the people of Cuba in a speech which was broadcast live on Cuban television channels.
It was undoubtedly the speech of an accomplished and experienced speaker. His message was explicitly aimed at Cuban youth, not only because Cuba's future is in their hands, but also because the premise the President started from seemed to be based on an amnesia, a selective and selfish memory.
In his own words his journey "put an end to the last lag of the Cold War". In exchange of a promising future, though, it would seems necessary to forget everything that happened between the two countries in the past 55 years. There would be no responsible for the pain and casualties caused by more than five decades of a US policy of harassment against Cuba.
Obama's was certainly an attractive proposal, difficult to reject but containing interlinings that can be evinced from his own words spoken, as he underlined, "without hypocrisy" and detailing what the US President thinks Cuban citizens should do "in order to enter the global world we live in". A world his country runs, or thinks to run.
Obama's proposals at times could be "confused" with interference in another country's business as his discourse included interpretations and readings of the inherent virtues of democracy and freedom (made in USA of course). The same virtues some countries and peoples invaded and attacked by the US in the last decade could easily rebut showing their sad and bleeding realities.
In the middle of his speech Obama dropped a rather unusual statement of principle to be highlighted in capital letters: he said Cuba should know that "the US will respect its sovereignty and independence". A statement to be remembered, because the selective historical amnesia he proposed, beyond any good intention, can also be a double-edged sword. Indeed, some 110 years ago another US President (William McKinley) said the same, on the eve of the Spanish defeat in Cuba, and the consequences of these words were the Platt Amendment (right to intervene in Cuban internal affairs from 1904 to 1933), or Guantanamo Bay, to name but a couple.
Contrary to what some had expected the President of Cuba, Raul Castro, didn't answer or countered Barack Obama's speech on Tuesday. In the theatre Garcia Lorca, at the end of the US President's address, the Cuban president just greeted the very selected audience. Castro's "response" to criticism about the lack of freedom of expression and civil liberties in Cuba was indeed the very fact that a President of another country (and by no mean a friendly one), was allowed and invited to address directly and on live television the people of Cuba, telling them openly "what they should do".
"We are all Americans," Obama said to close his speech, insisting on the premise of amnesia. After quoting Cuban hero José Martí several times, Obama seemed to have decided to ignore what Martí clearly stated in one of his most important works, "Our America": we were, and still are, in the presence of two very different Americas.
Just an hour and a half after his speech the President of the United States attended, together with his Cuban counterpart, the baseball game between the American Major League team Tampa Bay Rays and Cuban selection. More than thirty thousand people filled the Latin American Stadium for this historic game. The match itself confirmed the ill health of the Cuban baseball team as the Florida team won 4-1 without much difficulty. President Obama left the stadium before the final result, as he apparently still had a meeting scheduled for the day with twenty chosen representatives of the so-called "internal Cuban opposition" generously funded by the US just over two decades ago.
On Monday afternoon, in the second day of his visit to Cuba, US President Barack Obama concluded his busy schedule with a meeting attended by nearly two hundred representatives of Cuban companies. Both state and private companies participated. The latter being made up of self-employed entrepreneurs who are an inseparable part of the socio-economic changes that have been implemented in Cuba for some years, and on which the new Obama policy seems to place great hope to accelerate internal changes, apparently not only economic.
While the President of the United States conversed and transmitted encouragement to the new "entrepreneurs", promising an increasingly favorable environment for their business, his Secretary of State, John Kerry, held a long private meeting with the two delegations (Government and FARC-EP guerrilla commanders) negotiating a peace agreement for Colombia since 2012. Initially, many predicted that Obama would attend the signing of the desired agreement, however the Colombian peace needs to refine and agree many details and cannot be subject to media schedule. Yet Kerry with his presence has ratified that the US support that peace process and its results, which should put an end to the only armed conflict that still exists in the Americas.
In the next days and weeks, the visit of Barack Obama to Havana will be analysed in detail, as some of the contents of private meetings will emerged but also because it would be important to see the impact this historic visit will have in the complicated process of restoring relations between the US and Cuba.
The Oslo Times