Lorenzo Cañizares and Rolando Castañeda Read Spanish Version
his campaign, President Barack Obama promised us Cuban-Americans that
his administration would revoke the measures imposed by the previous
administration upon remittances and travel to Cuba. The fulfillment
of that promise is imminent on the eve of the Summit of the Americas,
in Trinidad & Tobago, April 17-19.
it is up to us, as Cuban-Americans, to make good use of this
opportunity we have at hand. Let us begin from the reality that the
recalcitrant members of the Cuban-American community who, for the
past 50 years, have determined and controlled United States policy
toward Cuba, are now in open rout. Now the road is open for good use
by a new generation of leaders who understand the historic moment in
which we live.
No event more clearly indicates this reality than the political transformation we have seen in the Cuban American National Foundation, from the stance taken by its recalcitrant and intransigent former leaders to its new position as a leader advocating change in the U.S. government's position toward Cuba, while propitiating a change in the exile community's vision toward Cuba.
other issues, the Foundation is calling on the Obama administration
to change to a diplomacy that focuses on negotiation with the Cuban
government; to help the incipient civil society that is being
developed on the island despite the opposition of the Cuban
government; and to increase the people-to-people relations that were
so successful in helping the People's Republic of China to open to
other models of socioeconomic development.
takes two to tango. In Cuba, the administration of Raúl Castro
acknowledges the socioeconomic difficulties in which the island finds
itself. Although he does not suggest any possibility of dismantling
socialism, Raúl does acknowledge the need to make structural and
conceptual changes to the existing socialism to make it more
efficient and responsive to the needs of the Cuban people. This is,
in reality, a practical point, more so than ideological. Those of us
who live in the United States suffer the results of the economic
disaster wreaked by the previous administration and the extreme
neoliberal policies. Capitalism, as a system, is not the culprit for
this economic disaster; the culprit is the unbounded greed encouraged
by that evil administration, which dismantled many prudent
regulations and supervisions and did not apply the existing ones.
Obama's responsibility now is to overcome the economic disaster created by that incompetence.
is demonstrating the political flexibility many of us were expecting
from him. In Cuba, the future possibilities are that the government's
focus will improve the socioeconomic conditions of the nation instead
of concentrating its efforts primarily on retaining political power.
recognition of the socioeconomic reality is a great beginning. No
fruitful plans can be accomplished if they are not based on objective
conditions. Raúl acknowledges the deficiencies and limitations of
the existing system. Raúl also acknowledges that the young people in
Cuba are eager for a better quality of life, not only for them but
also for their grandchildren.
situation is very delicate. The Cuban exile community can use its
abilities and economic power to foment trouble inside the island. But
it also has the option to use those facilities to help develop a
society where the huge talent of the Cuban people can be unleashed
for the benefit of all. The system itself is not a determining
factor. What economic system have China and Vietnam adopted? Some
intellectuals on the island describe it as capitalist. It doesn't
matter what color is the cat; what's important is that it catches
mice. The combination of the high educational level among island
Cubans and the entrepreneurial skills and resources of the exiled
Cubans would result in a formidable strategic alliance.
good thing about this alliance is that we can embark on a joint
action in which we shall have the support of a great majority of the
people from Latin America and the Caribbean. It is interesting to
note that Cuba's political influence has increased at the same time
that its intromission in the internal affairs of brotherly countries
has decreased. The future of the island is an issue that mainly
concerns the Cuban people. The Cuban American National Foundation has
set the guidelines for the necessary change in the exile community.
of the problems we note inside the island as obstacles to
socioeconomic progress are also acknowledged by leaders and
intellectuals who are aligned with the Cuban government. For example,
the lack of democracy and labor rights as fundamental impediments to
economic growth and the citizens' participation. This gives us an
opportunity to create an atmosphere that will foster economic
development and lay the foundations for democratic development in our
nation. It is up to us to play a positive or conflictive role. We opt
for the positive.
Cañizares is a Cuban-American labor leader. He is an organizational
specialist for the Pennsylvania State Education Association and lives
in Harrisburg, Pa.
Castañeda is a Cuban-American economist. A
retired official of the Inter-American Development Bank, he lives in