Estados Unidos busca reconciliarse con Cuba

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obamacuapBarack Obama abrió ayer la Cumbre de las Américas en Trinidad y Tobago con una histórica oferta de reconciliación con Cuba, en medio de una acumulación de declaraciones y gestos, tanto de parte norteamericana como cubana, que han creado enormes expectativas de que pueda nacer aquí el inicio de un diálogo para la normalización de relaciones entre los eternos enemigos del continente.
“Creo que podemos dirigir las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y Cuba en una nueva dirección”, afirmó el presidente de Estados Unidos, en el anuncio de una nueva política que puede acabar con un conflicto que durante décadas ha condicionado la relación de Washington con América Latina.
“Estados Unidos busca un nuevo comienzo con Cuba”, manifestó Obama. “Sé que hay un largo camino por delante para acabar con décadas de desconfianza, pero hay pasos decisivos que podemos dar hacia un nuevo día”. “En los dos últimos años he indicado, y repito hoy, que estoy preparado para que mi Administración se involucre con el Gobierno de Cuba en una amplia gama de asuntos, desde los derechos humanos a la libertad de expresión, las reformas democráticas, las drogas y los asuntos económicos”.
“Déjenme decirlo con claridad”, concluyó el presidente norteamericano, “no estoy interesado en hablar por hablar. Pero creo que podemos llevar las relaciones entre Estados Unidos y Cuba en una nueva dirección”. Se trata de la más rotunda y concreta oferta de diálogo presentada por un presidente de EE UU desde que ese país rompió relaciones con el régimen comunista de la isla y le impuso un embargo económico en 1962. Esta oferta, aparentemente bien recibida en la isla y rodeada de muchos apoyos en un continente que quiere sumarse a una nueva era mundial, significa, por tanto, una oportunidad de oro de acabar con el aislamiento de Cuba y de reincorporar a ese país, poco a poco, al conjunto de las naciones democráticas.
Con esta oferta, Obama reconoce, al mismo tiempo, que el embargo de tantas décadas no ha dado resultado y que es necesario corregir esa política. Eso fue también reconocido ayer explícitamente por la secretaria de Estado, Hillary Clinton, quien afirmó sin tapujos en la República Dominicana que “la política de Estados Unidos hacia Cuba ha fracasado”.
Al mismo tiempo, Clinton acogió de forma positiva las palabras del presidente cubano Raúl Castro, quien parece aceptar un diálogo con el Gobierno norteamericano con “todos los temas sobre la mesa”, incluidos los derechos humanos y la democracia.
Distintos líderes presentes en la cumbre de Puerto España realizan en estos momentos gestiones para favorecer ese diálogo y, llegado el caso, actuar como intermediarios. Entre ellos, el secretario general de la Organización de Estados Americanos, José Miguel Insulza, manifestó ayer que ha llegado el momento de reincorporar “paso a paso” a Cuba a la organización de la que fue expulsado hace casi medio siglo.
Todo ello está ocurriendo de forma acelerada, pero con prudencia para no forzar ni a Obama ni a Castro a una posición incómoda que dificulte sus movimientos. Por parte norteamericana, existe, no obstante, una intención clara de no dejar pasar la oportunidad que esta cumbre constituye. “El presidente llega a Trinidad y Tobago en busca de una aproximación pragmática a los problemas de la región, con la intención de dejar atrás los debates ideológicos del pasado”, afirma Dan Restrepo, asesor de la Casa Blanca para asuntos latinoamericanos. En esa línea, Obama ha recordado que la democratización, los derechos humanos y el reconocimiento de las libertades individuales en Cuba siguen siendo las metas de su Administración. Pero ha insistido en que no espera que “esos cambios se den de la noche a la mañana”.
Obama ha dejado claro que el levantamiento de todas las restricciones para que los norteamericanos con parientes en Cuba viajen a la isla, anunciado el pasado lunes, es sólo un primer paso en el camino de la normalización de relaciones. “Se pueden dar otros cuando Cuba esté dispuesto a darlos también”, afirmó poco antes de salir de México.
Entre tanto, añadió Obama, el Gobierno cubano podría mostrar algunos gestos de reciprocidad. Incluso sugirió que el permiso para los viajes a Cuba sea respondido con la autorización para que los cubanos que residen en la isla puedan salir al extranjero. Otro paso que Estados Unidos apreciaría de parte de los responsables cubanos sería la libertad para que sus ciudadanos puedan acceder a los canales por satélite de la televisión norteamericana.
[Obama se encontró ayer por primera vez con su homólogo venezolano, Hugo Chávez, quien le dijo: “Con esta misma mano hace ocho años yo saludé a Bush. Quiero ser tu amigo”.

“The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba”

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — President Obama, seeking to thaw long-frozen relations with Cuba, told a gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders on Friday that “the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,”and that he was willing to have his administration engage the Castro government on a wide array of issues.
Mr. Obama’s remarks, during the opening ceremony at the Summit of the Americas, are the clearest signal in decades that the United States is willing to change direction in its dealings with Cuba. They capped a dizzying series of developments this week, including surprisingly warm words between Raúl Castro, Cuba’s leader, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Other leaders here said that in watching Mr. Obama extend his hand to Cuba, they felt they were witnessing a historic shift. And in another twist, Cuba’s strongest ally at the summit, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, no fan of the United States, was photographed at the meeting giving Mr. Obama a hearty handclasp and a broad smile.
Cuba is not on the official agenda here; indeed, Cuba, which has been barred from the Organization of American States since 1962, is not even on the guest list. But leaders in the hemisphere have spent months planning to make Cuba an issue here.
The White House was well aware that if Mr. Obama did not address it head on, the issue would overwhelm the rest of the summit gathering. This week, the president opened the door to the discussions by abandoning longstanding restrictions on the ability of Cuban-Americans to travel freely to the island and send money to relatives there.
“I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day,” Mr. Obama said, adding that he was “prepared to have my administration engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues — from human rights, free speech, and democratic reform to drugs, migration, and economic issues.”
Mr. Obama’s message was not entirely new; he has said in the past that he was willing to engage with Cuba. But making a public pledge before leaders of 33 other nations, many of whom he had not yet met, gave his words added heft.
He came here with the aim of reaching out to leaders in a region that felt ignored by the United States during the Bush years. Just as he campaigned on the theme of change when running for the White House, he made change a theme of his speech here, saying: “I didn’t come here to debate the past. I came here to deal with the future.”
He said the United States needed to acknowledge long-held suspicions that it has interfered in the affairs of other countries. But, departing from his prepared text, he also said the region’s countries needed to cease their own historic demonization of the United States for everything from economic crises to drug violence.
“That also means we can’t blame the United States for every problem that arises in the hemisphere,” he said. “That’s part of the bargain. That’s the old way, and we need a new way.”

On Cuba, the president’s words were as notable for what he said as for what he did not say. He did not scold or berate the Cuban government for holding political prisoners, as his predecessor, George W. Bush, often did.
But he also did not say that he was willing to support Cuba’s membership in the Organization of American States, or lift the 47-year-old trade embargo against Cuba, as some hemisphere leaders here want him to do.
And his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on the way here, pointed out that Cuba needed to take concrete action to “bring greater freedom to the Cuban people.”
In his speech, Mr. Obama gave a nod toward these issues, although not explicitly.
“Let me be clear,” he said. “I am not interested in talking for the sake of talking. But I do believe we can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction.”
The new tone from Washington drew warm praise from leaders like President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina and President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua. Mr. Ortega, who said he felt ashamed that he was participating in the summit meeting without the presence of Cuba, evoked images of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, saying, “I am convinced that wall will collapse, will come down.”
Mrs. Kirchner praised Mr. Obama for “what you did to stabilize the relationship from the absurd restrictions imposed by the Bush administration,” adding: “We sincerely believe that we in the Americas have a second opportunity to construct a new relationship. Don’t let it slip away.”
Mr. Obama’s speech on Friday night was only the latest in a string of overtures between the countries. On Thursday, Raúl Castro, Cuba’s president, used unusually conciliatory language in describing the Obama administration’s decision to lift restrictions on family travel and remittances.
“We are willing to discuss everything, human rights, freedom of press, political prisoners, everything, everything, everything they want to talk about, but as equals, without the smallest shadow cast on our sovereignty, and without the slightest violation of the Cuban people’s right to self-determination,” Mr. Castro said in Venezuela during a meeting of leftist governments meant as a counterpoint to this weekend’s summit meeting in Trinidad and Tobago.
On Friday, Mrs. Clinton responded, saying, “We welcome his comments, the overture that they represent, and we’re taking a very serious look at how we intend to respond.”
Earlier this week Brazilian officials signaled in Rio de Janeiro that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, potentially flanked by the Colombian president, Álvaro Uribe, would raise the issue of accepting Cuba into the Organization of American States at the summit meeting. Cuba’s “absence is an anomaly and he is waiting for this situation to be corrected,” Marco Aurélio García, Mr. da Silva’s foreign policy adviser, told reporters.
On Friday, the secretary general of the O.A.S., José Miguel Insulza, said he would call for Cuba to be readmitted. And Mr. Chávez recently said he would refuse to sign the official declaration produced at the summit meeting because Cuba was not invited.
There are no plans for Mr. Chávez and Mr. Obama to meet privately, but White House officials said before the meeting that the two would participate in at least one small group leaders’ meeting, and that Mr. Obama would not spurn any outreach by Mr. Chávez, who frequently referred to Mr. Bush as “the devil.”
Indeed, Mr. Obama made the first move, officials said, striding across the room to introduce himself to Mr. Chávez as the leaders were lining up to parade into the opening ceremony. As he extended his hand, the Venezuelan government reported, Mr. Chávez told Mr. Obama: “I greeted Bush with this hand eight years ago. I want to be your friend.”

Agencias y Prensa Internacional
EFE,Reuters,Associated Press,Milenio,Minci de Venezuela,ELPAIS,NYTimes,FoxNews,
WashingtonTimes

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