Remarks to the Cuban Civil Society excluded from the Summit of the Americas
Allow me to begin with words that were told more than one century ago:
“When a strong nation wants to fight a battle with another, it demands allegiance and service from those nations dependent upon it. The first thing a nation does to dominate another is to separate it from other nations.”
This was written by Jose Marti 130 years ago after attending the Monetary Conference, a feast purposely designed by a burgeoning United States for the young republics of Our America.
Martí, who had been accredited by the government of Uruguay, o behalf of which he had been acting as Consul General in New York since 1887, apparently was almost excluded based on unexplainable delays and deceitful excuses by the State Department.
That Conference failed and it is affirmed that the Cuban decisively contributed to that, for he later on wrote a profound and demolishing analysis dictated by his own conscience on the dangers Our America would be exposed to should it accept the monetary union.
In forthright terms, without euphemisms of any sort, Martí defined in those lines the inability of the United States to understand it southern neighbors. And I quote: “They believe in the incomparable superiority of ‘the Anglo-Saxon race over the Latin’. They believe in the inferiority of the Blacks, whom they enslaved yesterday and vex today; and of the Indians, whom they are exterminating. They believe that the Spanish American nations are made up principally of Indians and Blacks.
Until the United States knows more about Spanish America, and respects it more,-although with the incessant, urgent, and wise explanations of our people and resources it could come to respect it-can this country invite Spanish America to a union that would be honest and useful to Spanish America? Would it be convenient for Spanish America to enter into this economic and political union with the United States? End of quote.
The questions asked by Marti carry the answers in themselves.
Few texts are more visionary on the US policy towards our nations in the Americas, a policy that the unlimited ambition of the empire has frozen in time, when it refused to listen to the voices that yield to it.
Those who may doubt it can compare those words with the exclusionary conception of the Ninth Summit of the America and they will realize they are still absolute valid.
The philosophical dogma that has always accompanied that insatiable ambition is the so called Manifest Destiny, a deeply-rooted racist and supremacist belief whose leading concept relies on the interventionist and unacceptable Monroe Doctrine.
Without renouncing any of these two concepts, the US Government convened the Ninth Hemispheric Summit in the city of Los Angeles, with discriminatory attendance and insufficient regional representation.
In the case of Cuba, the exclusion was not only against the government, but also against the representatives of the civil society and social actors, including our youths. The United States is no longer satisfied with deciding who and how should be the Cuban government. Now they attempt to determine who the representatives of the civil society are; who are the legitimate social actors and who are not.
Allow me to revisit history, for it usually hides so many lessons.
Between January and February of 1928, Cuba hosted the Sixth Pan-American Conference, one of the bad seeds of the OAS and the current summits of the Americas. The president of the Island at that moment was Gerardo Machado, a henchman of sad memory who was defeated by a popular uprising in 1933.
There can be no serious historian ignoring that “Cuba’s election as the venue of that conference was a result of the status of subordination of the Island to the United States. We were a protectorate of the Yankees. Thus, invitations not even were sent from Havana. They were distributed by the then Chargé d’affaires of Cuba in Washington.
Despite that subordination that Machado and his team decorated with fervent acts of genuflection, the then president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, arrived on board of a warship and the photos taken at that time show him, accompanied by his wife, not by the side of his Cuban counterpart, but a few meters ahead of him.
The order given by the owners of the “backyard” to those responsible for the Cuba policy was to avoid any uncomfortable debate. The recent interventions in Haiti and Nicaragua had heated the atmosphere, so it was necessary to avoid the discussions that might happen to be disturbing for the imperial ears.
Some people say that, on a previous trip to the United States, and for the purpose of being chosen as the host, Machado had promised Coolidge to avoid any statement or denunciation and offer the most servile support to the North Americans.
The Cuban ambassador in Washington had the despicable honor to please the powerful visitor by singing praises to the intervention, something that is still an insult:
“We cannot join the general choir saying ‘no intervention’ –he said- because the word ‘intervention’ in my country has been a word of glory, a word of honor, a word of triumph. It has been a word of freedom; it has been the independence.”
The organizers of the Summit of the Americas of 2022 would gladly invite a government like the one that received Coolidge, as was done 94 years ago with the undisputed dictator Gerardo Machado, who was defeated five years later by the Revolution of 1933.
But that was the Cuba that disappeared forever from the map of political subordination with the triumph of the Revolution of 1959.
I refer you to the historical speech delivered by the Army General and Leader of the Cuban Revolution at the Summit of the Americas held in Panama in 2015. With the whole time taken from us to take the floor at former Summits, Raúl laid down the principles that would ensure a more fruitful relation between the two Americas. And I quote:
“Hemispheric relations, in my opinion, must change profoundly, in particular in the political, economic and cultural spheres, to focus on developing mutually beneficial ties and cooperation to serve the interests of all our nations and their stated objectives, in accordance with International Law and respect for the exercise of self-determination and sovereign equality”. End of quote.
Cuba changed, Our America is changing, but the empire doses not change.
Regarding the exclusionary and discriminatory character of the event to be held on June 8 to 10 in Los Angeles, the revolutionary government made a strong statement.
We have known of the rejection provoked by that opportunistic selectivity in most of the governments of the region, as well as the clear and firm position adopted by several of them; and the notable absences to the event, as an expression of rejection of exclusions.
These confrontations between interventionist policies and sovereign policies have also historical antecedents.
In 1994, when the government of the United States convened the first of these summits and excluded Cuba, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz summarized in a phrase the essence of the imperial arrogance in a single phrase: “How much cowardice, mediocrity and political weakness is truly reflected by this exclusion!”. End of quote.
The US government of the moment, living through the euphoria of the alleged end of the Cold War, tried to use our most cherished symbols to lure again the nations of America into an already forgotten recolonization project; the FTAA.
And it dared to describe the Summit of the Americas as “Simon Bolivar’s dream come true”. “They just forgot to say it was also Marti’s dream come true”, answered Fidel from a historical meeting held at the Main Hall of the University of Havana where for the first time he coincided with the young and already impressive Bolivarian politician Hugo Chávez.
Hardly 11 years later, in another historical event that exalted the Summit of the Peoples over the Summit of Heads of States, where he cried his well-remember phrase “The hell with the FTAA…!” in Mar del Plata, Hugo Chávez had written the epitaph of the project to re-colonize Our America. The dreams of Bolivar and Marti were becoming true.
The list of the excluded was drafted against this Latin America that calls things by their names and asks no permission to exercise its sovereign rights.
We are honored to head that list, together with the leaders from Venezuela and Nicaragua and you, who are genuine representatives of our people. We feel equally honored by the gallant solidarity by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Lucho Arce, Xiomara Castro, the Caribbean leaders who have emphatically rejected exclusions and others who will certainly do it during the Summit.
Within a few hours we will be able to confirm what will be achieved or what proposals will be made in Los Angeles beyond the inaugural fanfare and the photo of the hosting President with those who will attend. The media show intended for the US domestic politicking will not be able to hide the lack of true interest on the part of that government in attending to the most pressing and serious problems of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.
You may well check the official documents and statements by politicians and officials from the US government during the last few years. The scarce references to our part of the world reflect the profound misunderstanding of the current realities of a region that has its own identity, whose nations have accumulated cravings for justice, suffer from underdevelopment and increasing inequality and refuse to bear for any longer the continued plundering of their natural wealth and the increased exploitation of their workers.
Neither do they bear pressure nor interference by the United States, which are aimed at forcing sovereign governments to implement policies that benefit the great transnationals, in an attempt to demand obedience and impose punishments when they fail to succeed. They refuse the role played by the institutions created by the United States, such as the OAS and the rest of the hemispheric domination instruments.
None of the above appears on the agenda of the meeting in Los Angeles.
The regional migration issue is inextricably linked to development and, above all, with underdevelopment. It is closely linked to the global capitalist model and the advancement of neoliberalism, whose economic policies create more marginalization, social instability, and unemployment, lack of health services, unaffordable and insufficient education systems and disintegration of the social fabric of communities.
Growing sectors of the population will keep on looking for the satisfactions of their needs and the realization of their dreams of prosperity I the advanced economies of the North. The present reality confirms the old idea that, if development does not start once and for all to spill over the South, underdevelopment will advance at greater speed to the North.
Repressive formulas as those outlined in the document imposed by the United States for the meeting are not the answer. They might temporarily mitigate uncontrolled migration, but they will not solve the multiplicity of causes and conditions that provoke irregular migration.
In the case of Cuba, the US government has applied for four years a policy oriented to encouraging irregular migration. As a rule it accepts those who arrive in its borders by irregular means and grants them the privilege of obtaining a permanent residence by virtue of legally established formulas only applicable to Cubans; it shut down the legal ways to migrate and maintains a policy of economic warfare aimed at undermining the living standards of the people. This is what can be called a perfect recipe to encourage irregular migration.
However, a thorough discussion of all these issues at the summit in these days is not envisaged. Obviously no effective result whatsoever is to be expected to solve a problem that will continue to affect our societies and hemispheric relations.
Neither should it be expected any fruitful discussion on the transfer of technology, without which it will be very difficult to expect any boost to the development of the region.
Increased connectivity and internet access in all communities is something positive. However, if these efforts are only limited to the promotion of captive markets for commercial advertisement and the advice and encouragement of unceasing consumption, their benefits for Latin America and the Caribbean will be null. The winners will be, of course, the big commercial companies.
If these are aimed at establishing technological platforms that contribute to saw in the communities, particularly among young people, the ideas generated in the ideological laboratories of the United States to promote certain behaviors and visions of the world, that stimulate political apathy and social alienation; incentivize selfishness; promote racism, narcissism and aggressiveness, the result will be extremely dangerous. It will be equally so if they are destined to promote lies, banality, dishonest politicking, slanders and media for hire.
If the intention is to exercise greater influence and control over our societies through the monopoly of technological information platforms in just a few hands, the obvious goal is the consolidation of the hegemonic and imperialist domain using new methods.
One of the topics that are most repeated by the spokespersons of the United States when promoting the summit that will take place in these days is the alleged defense of democracy, which they deceitfully put on a level with the promotion of capitalism, as if they were one and the same thing, when they are in fact opposite concepts.
Nothing in the past and recent history of the United States –or in its current behavior in the hemisphere- suggests that democracy or respect for human rights are true priorities of its regional foreign policy. When they so declare is because they act with dishonesty and they know it.
Looking only at the last 50 years, there has been a notoriously absolute involvement and connivance between the United States and the bloodiest and most repressive regimes ever known in this continent, with which they have practiced assassination, disappearances, massacres, tortures and extra judicial executions in the most shameless way.
To suppose that our peoples have no memory is a mistake and an act of disdain. More important still is the fact that the US government lacks the moral authority to speak about democracy when it is incapable of defending and promoting it within its own territory and for its own citizens.
It is not honest to speak in defense of democratic principles when, by virtue of recent federal laws, the US diplomatic system allows for the unlimited financing of electoral campaigns and the performance of politicians, the purchasing of politicians, which is equal to the purchasing of leaders.
It is not sincere to preach democracy in the region when there is an increase of legislations in numerous states of that country that restrict the right to vote and the possibility to exercise it, particularly if voters are low-income persons, belong to any of the so called ethnic minorities or live in neighborhoods considered marginal.
It is difficult to be a human rights advocate on behalf of a government that is not capable of guaranteeing the right to essential health services in the richest and most powerful country on Earth; that doesn’t have, or has ever intended to acquire the political and legal tools that might prevent the indiscriminate sales of weapons of war to the people, with the consequent and increasing cost in innocent human lives, among them children, for whom going to school has become dangerous.
The promotion of democracy and human rights is only a pipe dream in a political system where the interest of producers and traders of war weapons are a priority over the life of children and the rights to health and education.
It is not honest to preach about human rights when that government allows for the increase of racism and the trends of intolerance and white supremacy; when the rates of police and judicial abuse against Afro-descendants continue to be the rule.
There is no honesty either when the incarceration or detention of children and teenagers reach unacceptably high figures. According to data provided by the American Civil Liberties Association, on any day of the year at least 60 thousand children and youths under the age of 18 are being locked up or placed under detention in prisons or juvenile detention centers.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, many of them not even have committed a crime and thousands remain behind bars for non-criminal offenses. The United States is the only country of the hemisphere where youths under the age of 18 are sentenced to life without probation.
With this deplorable trajectory, the US government dares to suggest that the criteria used to invite and exclude countries of the hemisphere from the summit meeting were the standards of democracy and human rights. This pretext is an insult to the intelligence and common sense of all the others.
With the previously planned design and the documents prepared, it is already known that nothing will be discussed or adopted in relation to economic and social inequality in the region or marginalization, even within the United States. It is already known that there will be no discussion about the increasing problem of the judicialization of politics to sabotage the popular will and the governments elected with the support of the most humble sectors of the population; nor will there be any discussion about the corporate efforts of big transnationals to corrupt the governments of the region.
There will be no deep analysis of the reasons why the United States and Latin America are among the regions most affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.
None of the documents presented by the State Department was intended to make progress, with concrete actions, in the struggle against racism, in favor of women’s and children’s rights and palliate the uncertain status of migrants.
The progressive climate change and natural disasters that greatly threaten the countries of the region will remain void of practical measures.
Terrorism, including State terrorism and the manipulation of this issue for political purposes is not part of the agenda. There will be no confirmation of the Argentinean right over the Malvinas, or the right of Puerto Rico to independence.
The documents that are to be approved include no reference whatsoever to unilateral coercive measures and their implementation against countries of the region as a weapon of political pressure. They will include no ratification of the region’s unanimous claim, with the almost absolute support of the international community, calling for an end to the criminal blockade suffered by the Cuban people for 63 years now.
However, neither the voice of Cuba nor the solidarity with Cuba could be silenced. We know that the rejection of the economic blockade will be heard there and that the US government is very much aware that this feeling is shared throughout this entire hemisphere.
Several months ago it became evident that the opportunity to take advantage of the presence of regional leaders in Los Angeles to hold a true discussion of many of the problems that affect our society would be missed. It could have been otherwise.
The US government, with its huge economic and technological power and great influence could have made a transcendental contribution in that direction. That required, of course, a dose of humility, self-criticism, recognition of the scars that have marked our history; a modicum of solidarity and less selfishness; and sincere acknowledgement that times have changed.
Inter-American communication and interactions are necessary. There must be spaces for dialogue and cooperation among those of us who live to the south of Rio Bravo and the nations to the North. But this must be based on respect. The Meritorious of the Americas, Benito Juárez, summarized it magnificently, and I quote: “Among individuals as well as among nations, respect for the other’s right is peace”, end of quote.
We, the Latin American and Caribbean peoples do not consider ourselves as the back yard or a front yard of anyone. This is an outrageous notion that we reject. With the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the countries of our region reaffirmed our unrestricted adherence to the defense of sovereignty, independence and self-determination.
While promoting the necessary regional unity and integration, we established our commitment to respect diversity amidst ourselves. This region is shared by both big and small countries; those that are rich in natural resources and those that do not have them; those that export hydrocarbons or electricity and those that import it; the big food producers and those that depend on foreign trade to meet their needs. Besides, there are Small Island States that deserve a preferential and differentiated treatment in their international economic relations.
In some cases we have profound ideological differences, which have not prevented the development of relations, and even cooperation, whether to solve serious political conflicts or contribute to solve profound social problems and offer services to the populations that are most in need.
In 2014 we unanimously committed in Havana to observe the Declaration of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.
The United States could cooperate with this vast, rich and complex region and concert efforts to face the big challenges of today’s world. But this must be done with absolute respect for sovereign equality.
Times have changed and Our America does not accept the imposition of the interests of imperialism, as much as it does not accept that our region is used in the conflicts that the United States has with those whom it identifies as strategic rivals in other parts of the world.
Our people have reasons enough to wonder: Why are we paying attention to an event that points to results that are hardly transcendental, with notable absences, from which the United States decided to exclude beforehand several countries of the region?
The problem is that we cannot ignore an additional effort, however failed, to reinstate the Monroe Doctrine; nor can we stop denouncing the farce of convening once again the countries of the region for a neocolonial show. A The United State has the ability to avoid the presence of Cuba in Los Angeles, but does not have the power to silence our voice or silence the truth.
Our people have been aware of these issues. They are well informed, as very few people are, and understand the current situation facing the hemisphere. They participate in the country’s foreign policy and are the guarantor of the national sovereignty and independence in the face of the US hegemonic ambition. They also have a vocation for international solidarity and a well-deserved right to receive updated information about the current developments in the region.
A Summit of the peoples will also be in session in Los Angeles on June 8, 9 and 10. Reports indicate that this will be a true forum of debate and confrontation of ideas, with a broad agenda, reflecting the most urgent concerns of the region as a whole, with the participation of social organizations, trade unions, youth groups, community associations and persons with a deep social awareness in general.
There is every indicative that a true and transcendental political event will take place there, which is where we regret not being able to have significant in-presence participation. We know that the contributions of Cubans would have been important, that it would have been an important experience for you to have listened to problems and approaches of thousand of very diverse participants that will attend the forum.
At a moment like the one facing today the Latin American and Caribbean peoples, it is only sensible to go back to Marti. His everlasting essay entitled “Our America” has an amazing validity. The Apostle included in it lessons for all times, when he said:
“…The urgent duty of our America is to show herself as she is, united in soul and intent, fast overcoming the crushing weight of her past, and stained only with the fertilizing blood shed by hands that do battle against ruins, or by veins opened by our former masters. The disdain of the formidable neighbor who does not know her is the greatest danger that faces our America. It is urgent —for the day of the visit draws close—that her neighbor comes to know her, and quickly, so he will not disdain her.
Thank you, very much.
(Cubaminrex - Presidencia de Cuba)