Art by Yousef Amairi

Art by Yousef Amairi
the struggle continues

January 23, 2016

What Cubans expected from Obama

For Cuba, the scope of the election of the first non-white, non Anglo-Saxon president in the history of the United States was not derived only from the global superpower politics and had nothing to do with skin color or ethnicity. What it was unique for the island was the fact that it raised the hope that he would lead to the renunciation of the fierce hostility policy against the Cuban revolutionary project that culminated a process of struggles for independence begun 140 years ago.

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Cubans understood, from their own experience, that the promises made by Obama which decreed the historical significance of his election –if met– would fatally convene a powerful counteroffensive by the powerful financial consortia embodied in Wall Street and the military-industrial complex whose grim interests would be affected.

To defend the status quo and their privileges, these forces count on the strength of their weapons, the control of the media, education and culture to manipulate consciousness and to lead large masses of people to act against their own interests and rights in the context of a legal and social order governed by money and market competition. These guarantee the domination of their resources on the natural human aspirations for peace, solidarity and equality.

Cubans had reason to harbor hope for the election of a president who had promised to open the way to a new period in the relations between Havana and Washington.

They were aware that, in order to meet almost all the promises he made to the popular movements and humble families who led him to victory, the newly elected president of the United States would have to face in his own country the same backward forces that for half a century have hampered the progress of the revolution on the island.

That equation would imply –by simple arithmetic rule of three– that the character of the links Cuba and the United States have had all throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first century would have to change dramatically.

And, to realize such a utopia in the Caribbean Sea, the US government would have had to renounce not only its long-term ambition of ruling the future of the island, but also its imperial global endeavors. This is because Cuba could not ignore the debt of gratitude with the peoples of the Third World and the poor in industrialized nations whose solidarity has been the main support in the resistance war that Cuba has been waging.

For example, to Obama’s victory millions of African Americans contributed their vote. This ethnic group had suffered slavery –legally authorized until 1865– followed by a century of harsh racial discrimination known as “Jim Crow” with the terrorist outrages of the Ku Klux Klan and, later, the violent repression of their struggles for civil rights in the late 60s of the twentieth century who gave remarkable leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

The Cubans –who do not vote in these elections, but who have been victims of the same cruel policy– had come to appreciate that such a victory in the American nation could serve to initiate a period of peace and good neighborliness in the region, in the context of a broad democratization of international relations.

The hopes of the Cubans would come to pass if, by the will of its people, in the United States, there arose a government that would be respectful of Cuba’s independence.

After more than 90% of the presidential term for which he was twice elected, something has changed, at least formally, during Obama’s term. Diplomatic relations were restored and there are ongoing talks about various important issues. However, the essence of the economic blockade and other humiliating manifestations of the unfair relationship remain in place. Among these are the occupation of the territory of Guantanamo by the US naval base, the persistence of the US overt and covert subversive plans, and the media campaign against Cuba.

There are only a few months in Obama’s final term and there are many hopes that threaten to remain only as the unwavering hopes of the Cuban people in the bilateral relationship with the United States after the end of the term of the allegedly “different” President.

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