Obama: The Biggest Deceiver in Cuba

It has already been made clear in a previous article in People’s Voice (Zoltan Zigedy, El Hermano Obama and Compañero Fidel, April 16-30 issue) that the major scope of President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba, after Cuba-U.S. relations were re-established, has been to build his image for the history books. However, that is only part of his scope. No president can get away without promoting the “values” of the capitalist system. And so did Obama in his speech of more than 4,000 words addressing the “people of Cuba” at the Gran Teatro de La Habana on March 22. [1] We know that Fidel Castro did not swallow Obama’s “sweetened words”, to which he refers in his open letter addressed to “Brother Obama”. [2] Neither should we.

A month after Obama’s visit, after the dust of such an undoubtedly historic trip has settled, maybe we can see more clearly the real message and intentions contained in his words.

Obama mentions the word “democracy” nine times in his speech praising its role. At the same time, he said: “There’s still enormous problems in our society. But democracy is the way that we solve them.” He goes on to list the many problems that the U.S. faces today, “economic inequality; the death penalty; racial discrimination; wars abroad”. “We do have too much money in American politics”, “We do have challenges with racial bias — in our communities, in our criminal justice system, in our society”. Judging by the worsening situation on any of those issues in the U.S., clearly what he calls American democracy has failed, and he is in no moral position to sing its praises in Cuba.

He gave himself as an example of the son of an African immigrant who became president. He shows no sense of proportion, that for every single case like him, millions have carried the coffins of more millions, upon which rare cases like him can stand and deliver speeches of what I call “success by privilege”. That is actually an offense to the many who do not have the same opportunity for lack of privilege, or because of race and gender. Yes, gender. If Hillary Clinton gets to become president we will tire of hearing about the great “America”, land of opportunity, where a woman can become president. Except, “America” is the same country that does not pay the same wages to women for the same job as men.

As a further insult to workers, Obama said that in the U.S., “workers can organize and ordinary people have a voice”. This is another case of failed democracy. Corporations are systematically busting unions. And people not only need a voice, they must be able to organize, and their voice must be heard and acted upon, not silenced.

Obama’s real intention comes to the forefront in his reference to the virtues of the private sector. He said, “Being self-employed is not about becoming more like America, it’s about being yourself.” In fact, Cuba has chosen its socialist path and, is working at perfecting it within the realities of the world objective conditions, being true to itself.

Obama, the communicator…with a motive, is evident in his remark about access to online information, “if you cannot be exposed to different points of view, you will not reach your full potential.” This is clearly an indication of the importance attributed to access to U.S. dominated political points of view. Obama’s interest in telecommunications and Internet in Cuba is not a novel idea. George W. Bush encouraged that in 2007 as a means to introduce regime change in Cuba matched with funding “to support Cuban democracy efforts.” [3]

And like in 2007, literally hours after Obama left Cuba, the U.S. State Department allocated $800,000 to “train” Cuban youth, inviting non-profit organizations and educational institutions to submit proposals. [4] This is evidently a “proposal” to accept a bribe by a foreign country.

Several other statements are more direct and possibly offensive in their implication. For instance, consider, “Cubans would not realize their potential without continued change here in Cuba.” “I believe citizens should be free to speak their mind without fear.” “I believe voters should be able to choose their governments in free and democratic elections.”

Such statements are not a surprise. They were expected. And in that sense Obama is not deceiving Cubans. It is just part of the U.S. imperial homily.

Where Obama becomes clearly a big deceiver is when he blatantly states, “the United States has neither the capacity, nor the intention to impose change on Cuba.” Why do I find this so hard to believe and actually an insult to my intelligence?

Neither the U.S. track record with Cuba and Latin America, nor its current foreign policy in most parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, support that statement. The U.S. government has consistently demonstrated capacity and political will in promoting regime changes. At the time of this writing, “soft coups” are being encouraged in Brazil and Venezuela. Bolivia and Ecuador are still not entirely safe. Regime changes have been achieved in Honduras, Paraguay and Argentina. In Iraq and Libya the U.S. has committed crimes and destabilized the countries to the point of collapse and human disaster. In Afghanistan and now in Syria, it has created groups of terrorists supported by the State Department through surrogate Saudi Arabia and the not-so-tacit support of Israel. Iran is still in the crosshair of U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. has even used pro-Nazi groups in the Ukraine and blames Russia for the unrest there. It is absurd to believe that Cuba will be the exception in this wave of provoked regime changes.

To drive in his deception even further, Obama addressed Raul Castro to say, “I want you to know, I believe my visit here demonstrates you do not need to fear a threat from the United States.”

Partly it is true. Cuba does not fear the U.S., nor does Cuba need the U.S., as Fidel has stated. Cuba has managed and advanced for almost 60 years against the will of the empire. Cuba demands that the U.S. blockade be lifted, and the occupied territory of Guantanamo be returned to Cuba, first and foremost, because those actions are against international law and infringe against a sovereign country that has freely chosen a socialist system as its path.

[1] http://en.granma.cu/cuba/2016-03-22/remarks-by-president-obama-to-the-people-of-cuba

[2] http://en.granma.cu/cuba/2016-03-28/brother-obama

[3] Fact Sheet: Encouraging Freedom, Justice, and Prosperity in Cuba. http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2007/10/20071024-7.html

[4] http://en.granma.cu/cuba/2016-03-30/us-department-of-state-allocates-800000-dollars-to-train-cuban-youth


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Nino Pagliccia

Nino Pagliccia has two Master’s Degrees from Stanford University and is a retired researcher on Canada-Cuba collaborative projects at the University of British Columbia. He has published many peer-reviewed journal articles and has contributed chapters to books on topics about Cuba, the Cuban healthcare system and solidarity. He has been a long-time activist and has organized groups to do voluntary work in Cuba for almost 15 years.


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