El gobierno de Cuba afirmó hoy que dialogaría sobre cualquier tema con el presidente Barack Obama durante su visita a La Habana, incluso los derechos humanos, siempre sobre la base del respeto mutuo.

“Cuba está abierta a conversar con el gobierno de Estados Unidos sobre cualquier tema, incluyendo el de los derechos humanos”, enfatizó Josefina Vidal, directora general de Estados Unidos del Ministerio cubano de Relaciones Exteriores.

La funcionaria descartó así supuestos temas tabúes en la agenda bilateral, aunque advirtió que Cuba también tiene criterios sólidos al respecto, y reiteró la necesidad de levantar el criticado bloqueo económico que Washington mantiene desde 1962.

Por lo pronto, señaló que esta visita dará a Obama una aproximacion directa a la realidad cubana y transformaciones de su economia nacional, y aseguró que el gobierno y pueblo de este país recibirán con su proverbial hospitalidad a Obama.

Agregó que Cuba le ratificará a Obama su voluntad de avanzar en la construcción de una nueva relación entre ambos países, sobre la base del respeto a las diferencias y con beneficios mutuos.

La visita de Obama será el 21 y 22 de marzo próximos, 14 meses después que ambos gobiernos anunciaron un proceso para el restablecimiento de los vínculos bilaterales, que llevó a la reapertura de embajadas en La Habana y Washington.

Prensa Latina

Barack Obama confirma su visita a Cuba en marzo

La visita será entre el 21 y 22 del mes próximo, antes de su viaje a Argentina. Según señaló por su cuenta en Twitter, el mandatario realizará este viaje para avanzar hacia una mejor vida de los cubanos.

“Todavía tenemos diferencias con el gobierno cubano que yo trataré directamente. América defenderá los derechos humanos en todo el mundo”, agregó en un tuit.

Asimismo, aseguró que desde hace 14 meses, cuando inició la normalización de las relaciones con Cuba, el progreso ha sido significativo.

Obama sería el primer mandatario estadounidense en funciones en visitar la isla en 88 años, luego de la visita de Calvin Coolidge en 1928.

En contexto

El 17 de diciembre de 2014, los presidentes de Cuba, Raúl Castro, y EE.UU., Barack Obama, anunciaron la decisión de restablecer sus relaciones diplomáticas. El 16 de enero de 2015, Estados Unidos levantó ciertas restricciones comerciales y permitió los viajes de determinados grupos de estadounidenses a la isla, sin embargo, eso no implicó el levantamiento del bloqueo económico y financiera en contra de Cuba.

En abril de 2015, cuando se realizó la VII Cumbre de las Américas, Cuba participó por primera vez desde que se creó este encuentro en 1994. La presencia del país caribeño fue aplaudida por el mundo, al ver el acercamiento que se iba enfatizando entre esta nación y EE.UU.

El 29 de mayo, EE.UU. eliminó oficialmente a Cuba de su lista de países que patrocinan el terrorismo. El 20 de junio pasado, representantes cubanos dejaron oficialmente inaugurada la embajada de la isla caribeña en Estados Unidos (EE.UU.). El acto estuvo encabezado por el ministro de Relaciones Exteriores de la nación antillana, Bruno Rodríguez.

Ese mismo día, se abrió la embajada de EE.UU. en Cuba, más no se realizó acto formal. Fue el 14 de agosto cuando se llevó a cabo la ceremonia oficial de apertura de la sede diplomática en La Habana, que estuvo a cargo del secretario de Estado norteamericano, John Kerry.

telesur

 

President Obama is going to Cuba. Here’s why:

Cuba is only 90 miles from Florida, but for a long time the distance between our two countries seemed a lot greater.

For more than fifty years, the United States pursued a policy of isolating and pressuring Cuba. While the policy was rooted in the context of the Cold War, our efforts continued long after the rest of the world had changed.

Put simply, U.S. Cuba policy wasn’t working and was well beyond its expiration date.

Cuba’s political system did not change.

The United States was isolated within our own hemisphere — and in the wider world — which disagreed with our approach.

Most importantly, our policy was not making life better for the Cuban people — and in many ways, it was making it worse.

So in 2014, President Obama changed course. And on March 21–22, President Obama and the First Lady will visit Havana, Cuba.

He will be the first American President since Calvin Coolidge in 1928 to visit Cuba; President Coolidge traveled to Cuba on a U.S. battleship, so this will be a very different kind of visit.

Here’s how we got here:

Early in the Obama administration, we made it easier for Cuban-Americans to travel and send remittances to Cuba — because the President believed that Cuban-Americans are our best ambassadors to the Cuban people.

We later pursued many months of secret negotiations hosted by the Canadian government and supported by Pope Francis and the Vatican. And on December 17, 2014, President Obama announced — along with President Raul Castro of Cuba — that the United States and Cuba would begin a new chapter and take steps to normalize relations.

Since then, we have made progress in opening up relations between our two countries. Last summer, we restored diplomatic relations and Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Cuba to raise the American flag over our Embassy. This enhanced diplomatic presence makes it much easier for the United States to advance our interests and values in Cuba, as we do in countries around the world. We’ve been able to engage Cubans from all walks of life. We’ve facilitated visits to Cuba by U.S. lawmakers, businesses, and academics. Changes in U.S. policies and regulations have allowed for greater travel and commerce between our countries. In fact, over this period, the number of authorized American visitors to Cuba has gone up by 54 percent, enabling increased people-to-people engagement. This will continue to increase, as earlier this week, the United States and Cuban governments reached an agreement that will restore direct flights between our countries for the first time in over 50 years — a change that will allow up to 110 direct flights to Cuba from the United States each day.

We’ve already seen indications of how increased engagement can improve the lives of the Cuban people. Cuba’s nascent private sector — from restaurant owners to shopkeepers — has benefited from increased travel from the American people. Increased remittances to Cuba from the United States has helped Cuban families. Openings for American companies also hold the potential of improving the lives of ordinary Cubans — for instance, American companies will be enabling travelers to stay in Cuban homes and setting up a factory that will provide equipment for farmers. The Cuban government has taken some steps to fulfill its commitment to expand access to the Internet, expanding wireless hotspots and announcing an initial broadband connection. These are steps that should be built upon to increase connectivity to the wider world and access to information for the Cuban people.
President Barack Obama shakes hands with President Raúl Castro of Cuba during the Summit of the Americas at the Atlapa Convention Center in Panama City, Panama, April 11, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Still, this progress is insufficient. There is much more that can be done — by the United States, and by the Cuban government — to advance this opening in ways that will be good for Cubans, and good for the United States. That is why President Obama is traveling to Cuba. We want to open up more opportunities for U.S. businesses and travelers to engage with Cuba, and we want the Cuban government to open up more opportunities for its people to benefit from that engagement. Ultimately, we believe that Congress should lift an embargo that is not to advancing the Cuban people’s individual well-being and human rights, and remove onerous restrictions that aim to dictate to Americans where they can and cannot travel.

Even as we pursue normalization, we’ve made clear that we will continue to have serious differences with the Cuban government — particularly on human rights. While Cuba released Alan Gross, a number of political prisoners and recently hosted the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, we continue to oppose and speak out against restrictions on rights like freedom of speech and assembly — and space for independent civil society — that the United States supports around the world. While we do not seek to impose change on Cuba, we strongly believe that Cuba will benefit when the Cuban people can exercise their universal rights. President Obama has raised these issues in his discussions with President Castro, and will continue to do so.
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, left, confers with Ricardo Zuniga, National Security Council’s Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, during President Barack Obama’s phone call with President Raúl Castro of Cuba, in the Oval Office, Dec. 16, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As the President has said, Cuba will not change overnight, nor will all of the various differences between our countries go away. But the guiding principle of our Cuba policy — our North Star — remains taking steps that will improve the lives of the Cuban people.

That will be the President’s message on his trip — where he’ll have the opportunity to meet with President Castro, and with Cuban civil society and people from different walks of life. Yes, we have a complicated and difficult history. But we need not be defined by it. Indeed, the extraordinary success of the Cuban-American community demonstrates that when we engage Cuba, it is not simply foreign policy — for many Americans, it’s family.

Our opening to Cuba has also created new possibilities for the United States in Latin America — a region that used to uniformly oppose our Cuba policy, and which now welcomes our new beginning.

We have worked with Cuba and other countries to support President Santos and the Colombian people as they are pursuing an end to a decades-long civil war. Following the President’s trip to Cuba, he and the First Lady will travel to Argentina — a country with a new President who wants to begin a new chapter of improved relations with the United States.

This is yet another indication that the future is bright for the United States in our own hemisphere.

Medium

 


Watch Secretary Kerry on the U.S. Embassy in Havana

We are separated by 90 miles of water, but are brought together through shared relationships and the desire to promote a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba. President Obama is taking action to cut loose the anchor of failed policies of the past, and to chart a new course in U.S. relations with Cuba.

On March 21, he and the First Lady will travel to Havana, Cuba in his continued efforts to engage and empower the Cuban people.

Watch Secretary Kerry deliver remarks from our re-opened Embassy in Havana.

Tune in today at 12:30pm ET when the President’s Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes will be in the briefing room to discuss the details of the trip and the progress we’ve made under the President’s Cuba policy.

And make sure you get the full story from Ben on how we got to this historic point here — then follow him on Twitter, @Rhodes44, to get the latest on the road to Cuba.

A Failed Approach

Decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our objective of empowering Cubans to build an open and democratic country. At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba. Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party.

We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state. We should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens we seek to help.
Next Steps, New Course

Since the President took office in 2009, he has taken steps to support the ability of the Cuban people to gain greater control over their own lives and determine their country’s future.

Now, the President is taking the next steps to renew our leadership in the Americas, end our outdated approach on Cuba, and promote more effective change that supports the Cuban people and our national security interests.

Here’s what the President’s new approach will do:

Re-establish diplomatic relations
Our diplomatic relations with Cuba were severed in January of 1961. The President is immediately reopening discussions with Cuba and working to re-establish an embassy in Havana in the next coming months. The U.S. will work with Cuba on matters of mutual concern that advance U.S. national interests, such as migration, counternarcotics, environmental protection, and trafficking in persons, among other issues.

More effectively empower the Cuban people by adjusting regulations
The President is taking steps to improve travel and remittance policies that will further increase people-to-people contact, support civil society in Cuba, and enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people.

Facilitate an expansion of travel to Cuba
The U.S. is restoring up to 110 direct, commercial roundtrip flights a day. With expanded travel, Americans will be able to help support the growth of civil society in Cuba more easily, and provide business training for private Cuban businesses and small farmers. Americans will also be able to provide other support for the growth of Cuba’s nascent private sector.

General licenses will be made available for all authorized travelers in 12 existing categories:

1. Family visits

2. Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations

3. Journalistic activity

4. Professional research and professional meetings

5. Educational activities

6. Religious activities

7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions

8. Support for the Cuban people

9. Humanitarian projects

10. Activities of private foundations, research, or educational institutions

11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials

12. Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines

Authorize expanded sales and exports of certain goods and services from the U.S. to Cuba
The expansion will seek to empower the nascent Cuban private sector and make it easier for Cuban citizens to have access to certain lower-priced goods to improve their living standards and gain greater economic independence from the state.

Authorize American citizens to import additional goods from Cuba
Licensed U.S. travelers to Cuba will be authorized to import $400 worth of goods from Cuba, of which no more than $100 can consist of tobacco products and alcohol combined.

Initiate new efforts to increase Cubans’ access to communications
and their ability to communicate freely
Cuba has an Internet penetration of about five percent – one of the lowest rates in the world. The cost of telecommunications in Cuba is exorbitantly high, while the services offered are extremely limited. Now, telecommunications providers will be allowed to establish the necessary mechanisms, including infrastructure, in Cuba to provide commercial telecommunications and internet services.

Human Rights and Civil Society

A critical focus of these actions will include continued strong support for improved human rights conditions and democratic reforms in Cuba. The promotion of democracy supports universal human rights by empowering civil society and a person’s right to speak freely, peacefully assemble, and associate, and by supporting the ability of people to freely determine their future. The U.S. efforts are aimed at promoting the independence of the Cuban people so they do not need to rely on the Cuban state.

The U.S. Congress funds democracy programming in Cuba to provide humanitarian assistance, promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, and support the free flow of information in places where it is restricted and censored. The Administration will continue to implement U.S. programs aimed at promoting positive change in Cuba, and we will encourage reforms in our high level engagement with Cuban officials.

The United States encourages all nations and organizations engaged in diplomatic dialogue with the Cuban government to take every opportunity both publicly and privately to support increased respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba.

Ultimately, it will be the Cuban people who drive economic and political reforms. That is why President Obama took steps to increase the flow of resources and information to ordinary Cuban citizens in 2009, 2011, and today. The Cuban people deserve the support of the United States and of an entire region that has committed to promote and defend democracy through the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

White House