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Raul Castro's 'Extraordinary,' 'Passionate' Speech Ignored by US Media


April 12, 2015
The Huffington Post & TeleSurTV & The Washington Post & Granma

Speaking for the first time at the Summit of the Americas Cuban President Raul Castro was given extra time to deliver a speech that was described as "passionate" and "extraordinary." The contents of Castro's speech -- a detailed recitation of more than 200 years of US plots and aggression against Cuba – appear to have been censored by US media. Cuban media have provided a summary of the speech (see the bold text below).

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/11/raul-castro-obama_n_7046540.html

Raul Castro Says Cuba Blockade
Not Obama's Fault

The Huffington Post

PANAMA CITY (April 11, 2015) -- President Barack Obama on Saturday declared his refusal to refight the Cold War battles while Cuban President Raul Castro rallied to his defense, absolving Obama of fault for the US blockade in a stunning reversal of more than 50 years of animosity between the United States and Cuba.

"In my opinion, President Obama is an honest man," Castro said -- a remarkable vote of confidence from the Cuban leader, who praised Obama's life and his "humble background."

Turning the page on the longstanding US policy of isolation, Castro and Obama were expected to meet later Saturday on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas -- the first substantial meeting between a US and Cuban president in more than five decades.

The flurry of diplomacy, which kicked off Friday evening with an historic handshake between Obama and Castro, was aimed at injecting fresh momentum into their months-old plan to restore normal relations between their countries.

"The Cold War has been over for a long time," Obama said. "And I'm not interested in having battles frankly that started before I was born."

Castro, in a meandering, nearly hour-long speech to the summit, ran through an exhaustive history of perceived Cuban grievances against the US dating back more than a century -- a vivid display of how raw passions remain over American attempts to undermine Cuba's government.

Then, in an abrupt about face, he apologized for letting his emotions get the best of him. He said many US presidents were at fault for that troubled history -- but that Obama isn't one of them.

"I have told President Obama that I get very emotional talking about the revolution," Castro said through a translator, noting that Obama wasn't even born when the US began sanctioning the island nation. "I apologize to him because President Obama had no responsibility for this."

Speaking just before Castro, Obama acknowledged that deep differences between their countries would persist. Yet he said he was uninterested in getting bogged down in ideology, instead casting the thaw in relations as an opening to create "more opportunities and resources for the Cuban people."

"The United States will not be imprisoned by the past," President Barack Obama said. "We're looking to the future."

Yet the optimistic tone from the president wasn't enough to offset the skepticism of some Latin American leaders about US intentions in the region, including many who have sharply criticized recent US sanctions against Venezuelan officials.

Even President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, whose country is a close US partner, told the summit that such unilateral policies of isolation are always counterproductive and ineffective. "For that reason we reject the adoption of [US] sanctions against Venezuela," she said.

Raising the stakes even higher for the two leaders was mounting speculation that Obama would use the occasion of the summit taking place in Panama to announce his decision to remove Cuba from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, a gesture that for Cuba holds both practical and symbolic value.

The US long ago stopped accusing Cuba of conducting terrorism, and Obama has signaled that he's ready to take Cuba off the list. Earlier in the week he suggested an announcement was imminent when he revealed that the State Department had completed its lengthy review of the designation.

Removal from the terror list is a top priority for Castro because it would not only purge a stain on Cuba's pride, but also ease its ability to conduct simple financial transactions.

Yet Obama's delay in delisting Cuba comes as the US seeks concessions of its own -- namely, the easing of restrictions on American diplomats' freedom of movement in Havana and better human rights protections. Obama said the US would continue pressing Cuba on human rights even as he called for Congress to lift the embargo on the island nation 90 miles to the south of Florida.

Obama was also to take questions from reporters before returning to Washington.

A successful relaunch of US-Cuba relations would form a cornerstone of Obama's foreign policy legacy. But it's an endeavor he can't undertake alone: Only Congress can fully lift the onerous US sanctions regime on Cuba, and there are deep pockets of opposition in the US to taking that step.



Raul Castro Delivers Historic Speech to Summit of the Americas
TeleSurTV

(April 11, 2015) -- Cuba's presence at the summit in Panama has been lauded by Latin American leaders from across the political spectrum. Cuban president Raul Castro addressed the Summit of the Americas for the first time on Saturday, and called for an end to the US blockade against his country.

Castro said the decades-old blockade has harmed the Cuban people, and is a "violation of international law." He said today the United States owes a historic debt to Cuba, though he praised US president Barack Obama for vowing to end the blockade. "While the blockade exists . . . we have to keep fighting and support President Obama in his intentions to end the blockade," he said.

However, Castro argued relations between Washington and Havana are far from normalized, pointing to the continued presence of a US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, which he said "still usurps part of our territory." "One thing is to establish diplomatic relations, and the other question is the blockade," he said.

Turning to Venezuela, Castro chastised Obama for imposing sanctions on officials in Caracas. "Venezuela isn't a threat to any country," he said, referring to an executive order issued by Obama earlier this year. The executive order labeled Venezuela a "threat" to the United States.

Obama has since backtracked, admitting in a recent interview with EFE that Venezuela poses no threat to the United States. Obama also addressed the Summit of the Americas earlier Saturday. However, Castro's speech marks the first time a Cuban head of state has spoken at the summit, which is overseen by the US-dominated Organization of American States . . . .

Castro's presence at the summit has been lauded by Latin American leaders from across the political spectrum, many of which have long argued Cuba shouldn't be excluded from regional talks.

"This is a summit that brings together all the countries of the hemisphere, without exception. Three years ago, in Cartagena, I said it would be unacceptable to have another summit without Cuba," said Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. "Today we celebrate their presence, and the path they have begun towards the relaunching of diplomatic ties (with the United States)," he stated.


Raul: 'We Came to Fulfill the Mandate of Marti
With the Freedom Won by Our Own Hands'

Redaccion Internacional / Granma

PANAMA (April 11, 2015) -- President Raul Castro said this Saturday that Cuba was attending the 7th Summit of the Americas in order to fulfill the mandate of Martiwith the freedom won by our own hands.

He thanked the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean for their solidarity, enabling Cuba to participate equally in this hemispheric forum, as well as the President of the Republic of Panama for the invitation to attend. He also expressed thanks for the extended time he had been given, given that Cuba's "many years of absence" justified that he speak a little longer than the usual eight minutes allotted.

Raul noted that with the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States on December 2 and 3, 2011, in Caracas, a new era in the history of Our America began, clearly establishing the hard earned right of its peoples' to live in peace and freely develop as they decide fit as well as mapping a path for future development and integration based on cooperation, solidarity and the common will to preserve their independence, sovereignty and identity.

In 1800, the US had considered adding Cuba to the Union, marking the southern boundary of the vast empire. In the nineteenth century, the doctrine of Manifest Destiny emerged with the aim of dominating the Americas and the world, together with the theory of the "Ripe Fruit" regarding the inevitable gravitation of Cuba toward the Union, which rejected the development of emancipatory thinking.

Raul stated that later, through wars, conquests and interventions, this expansionist and hegemonic force stripped Our America of its territories extending down to the Rio Grande.

Following long and frustrated struggles, Jose Martiorganized the "necessary war" and created the Cuban Revolutionary Party to lead it and to found a Republic "with all and for the good of all," which set out to achieve "the full dignity of man."

Accurately defining and anticipating the characteristics of his time, Martidevoted himself to the duty "of preventing the United States from spreading through the Antilles as Cuba gains its independence, and from overpowering with that additional strength our lands of America."

Our America for him was that of the Creoles, the indigenous, the blacks and mulattos, the mestizo and hardworking America that had to make common cause with the oppressed. Today, beyond geography, this is an ideal that is starting to become reality, Raul explained.

He added that 117 years ago, on April 11, 1898, the then President of the United States requested authorization from Congress to militarily intervene in the independence war, already won with rivers of Cuban blood, and that this body passed a deceptive Joint Resolution, which recognized the independence of the island "in fact and law." They came as allies and seized the country as occupiers.

An appendix to its Constitution was imposed on Cuba, the Platt Amendment, which stripped the island of its sovereignty, authorizing the powerful neighbor to intervene in its internal affairs and led to the establishment of the Guantanamo Naval Base, which still usurps part of our territory. During this period, the invasion of northern capital increased, there were two military interventions and the US supported cruel dictatorships.

On January 1st, 1959, 60 years after American soldiers entered Havana, the Cuban Revolution triumphed and the Rebel Army led by Fidel Castro Ruz arrived in the capital.

On April 6, 1960, just a year after the victory, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Lester Mallory, wrote in a perverse memorandum, declassified decades later, that "the majority of Cubans support Castro...There is no effective political opposition…The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship… to weaken the economic life of Cuba… denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government," the Army General quoted.

He also spoke further of the great hardship that Cubans have endured. 77% of the Cuban population was born under the rigors imposed by the blockade. "But our patriotic convictions prevailed. The aggression increased the resistance and accelerated the revolutionary process. Here we are with our heads held high and our dignity intact," he emphasized.

Once we had already proclaimed socialism and the people had fought to defend the Bay of Pigs, President Kennedy was assassinated precisely at the moment when the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, had received a message from him looking to initiate a dialogue, he continued.

At another point in his speech, the Army General stated that he had expressed to President Barack Obama and was now reiterating our willingness to engage in respectful dialogue and a civilized coexistence between the two states despite our profound differences.

He described President Obama as an honest man and said that he believed that this nature arose from his humble origins. But he stressed that normalizing relations is one thing and the blockade is another.

He considered Obama's recent statement indicating that a decision regarding Cuba's presence on the list of state sponsors of terrorism would be reached shortly as a positive step, noting that the island should never have appeared on the list.

To date, the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which continues to be applied in full force against the island, has caused damages and shortages for the Cuban people and is the key obstacle to the development of our economy. It constitutes a violation of international law and its extraterritorial scope affects the interests of all States, he underlined.

For our part, we will continue to be deeply immersed in the process of updating the Cuban economic model with the aim of perfecting our socialism, moving towards further development and consolidating the achievements of a Revolution that has resolved to "conquer all justice."

He also stated that Venezuela is not and can not be a threat to the national security of a superpower like the United States and described the fact that the US President has acknowledged this as positive.

"Cuba will continue to defend the ideas for which our people have assumed the greatest sacrifices and risks and fought for, alongside the poor, the sick lacking medical care, the unemployed, children abandoned or forced to work or prostitute themselves, the hungry, the discriminated against, the oppressed and the exploited that constitute the vast majority of the world population," he highlighted.

The Cuban President also noted that financial speculation, the privileges of Bretton Woods and the unilateral suspension of the convertibility of the dollar into gold are increasingly asphyxiating. "We need a transparent and equitable financial system."
He said that it is unacceptable that less than a dozen emporiums, mainly American, determine what is read, seen or heard across the planet.

Raul added that the Internet must have an international, democratic and participatory governance, especially in regards to the generation of content. He also paraphrased one of Aesop's Fables and said the Internet serves for the best but also the worst.

Furthermore, he considered the militarization of cyberspace and the covert and illegal employment of computer systems to attack other States as unacceptable. "We will not allow them to dazzle or colonize us again."

Raul argued that hemispheric relations must change profoundly, particularly in the political, economic and cultural spheres; in order that, based on international law and the exercise of self-determination and sovereign equality, they focus on the development of mutually beneficial links and cooperation to serve the interests of all our nations and the goals they set themselves.

He recalled that the adoption in January 2014, at the Second CELAC Summit, in Havana, of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, was an important contribution to this end, marked by Latin American and Caribbean unity in diversity.

The Cuban President stressed that "the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system, as an essential condition to guarantee peaceful coexistence among nations," must be respected, as stated in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.

He concluded that thanks to Fidel and the heroic Cuban people, we have come to this Summit, to fulfill the mandate of Marti with the freedom won by our own hands, "proud of our America, to serve and honor her...with the determination and capacity to help ensure that she is valued for her merits, and respected for her sacrifices."



Speech by Cuban President Raul Castro
On Re-establishing US-Cuba Relations

Washington Post Foreign Staff

HAVANA (December 17, 2014) -- Fellow countrymen:

Since my election as President of the State Council and Council of Ministers I have reiterated on many occasions our willingness to hold a respectful dialogue with the United States on the basis of sovereign equality, in order to deal reciprocally with a wide variety of topics without detriment to the national Independence and self-determination of our people.

This stance was conveyed to the US Government both publicly and privately by Comrade Fidel on several occasions during our long-standing struggle, stating the willingness to discuss and solve our differences without renouncing any of our principles.

The heroic Cuban people, in the wake of serious dangers, aggressions, adversities and sacrifices, has proven to be faithful and will continue to be faithful to our ideals of independence and social justice. Strongly united throughout these 56 years of Revolution, we have kept our unswerving loyalty to those who died in defense of our principles since the beginning of our independence wars in 1868.

Today, despite the difficulties, we have embarked on the task of updating our economic model in order to build a prosperous and sustainable Socialism.

As a result of a dialogue at the highest level, which included a phone conversation I had yesterday with President Obama, we have been able to make headway in the solution of some topics of mutual interest for both nations.

As Fidel promised on June 2001, when he said: "They shall return!" Gerardo, Ramon, and Antonio have arrived today to our homeland.

The enormous joy of their families and of all our people, who have relentlessly fought for this goal, is shared by hundreds of solidarity committees and groups, governments, parliaments, organizations, institutions, and personalities, who for the last sixteen years have made tireless efforts demanding their release. We convey our deepest gratitude and commitment to all of them.

President Obama's decision deserves the respect and acknowledgment of our people.

I wish to thank and acknowledge the support of the Vatican, most particularly the support of Pope Francisco in the efforts for improving relations between Cuba and the United States. I also want to thank the Government of Canada for facilitating the high-level dialogue between the two countries.

In turn, we have decided to release and send back to the United States a spy of Cuban origin who was working for that nation.

On the other hand, and for humanitarian reasons, today we have also sent the American citizen Alan Gross back to his country.

Unilaterally, as has always been our practice, and in strict compliance with the provisions of our legal system, the concerned prisoners have received legal benefits, including the release of those persons that the Government of the United States had conveyed their interest in.

We have also agreed to renew diplomatic relations.

This in no way means that the heart of the matter has been solved. The economic, commercial, and financial blockade, which causes enormous human and economic damages to our country, must cease.

Though the blockade has been codified into law, the President of the United States has the executive authority to modify its implementation.

We propose to the Government of the United States the adoption of mutual steps to improve the bilateral atmosphere and advance towards normalization of relations between our two countries, based on the principles of International Law and the United Nations Charter.

Cuba reiterates its willingness to cooperate in multilateral bodies, such as the United Nations.

While acknowledging our profound differences, particularly on issues related to national sovereignty, democracy, human rights and foreign policy, I reaffirm our willingness to dialogue on all these issues.

I call upon the Government of the United States to remove the obstacles hindering or restricting ties between peoples, families, and citizens of both countries, particularly restrictions on travelling, direct post services, and telecommunications.

The progress made in our exchanges proves that it is possible to find solutions to many problems.

As we have reiterated, we must learn the art of coexisting with our differences in a civilized manner.

We will continue talking about these important issues at a later date. Thank you.


President Raul Castro Speaks to Third CELAC Summit in Costa Rica
Raul Castro Ruz / Granma

(January 29, 2015) -- A speech by Army General Raul Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Councils of State and Ministers, at the Third CELAC Summit, held in Costa Rica, on January 28, 2015, "Year 57 of the Revolution." (Council of State Transcript)

Esteemed President Luis Guillermo Solis; Esteemed Heads of State and Government of Latin America and the Caribbean; Esteemed Heads of the Delegations and guests accompanying us:

Our America has entered a new era and has advanced, since the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, in its goals of independence, sovereignty over its natural resources, integration, the construction of a new world order, social justice and democracy of the people, by the people and for the people.

Today there is a commitment to justice and the rights of the peoples, which is superior to that in any other historical period. Together, we are the third largest economy in the world, the area with the second largest oil reserves, the greatest biodiversity on the planet and a high concentration of the globe's mineral resources.

To develop unity within diversity, cohesive action, and respect for differences will remain our primary purpose and an inescapable necessity, because the world's problems are serious, and great dangers and tough challenges persist which transcend national and even sub-regional possibilities. Over the past decade, economic and social policies and sustained growth have allowed us to confront the global economic crisis and made possible a reduction in poverty, unemployment and unequal income distribution.

The profound political and social transformations carried out in several countries in the region have brought dignity to millions of families who have escaped poverty. But the Latin American and Caribbean region remains the most unequal on the planet. On average, 20% of households with the lowest incomes receive 5% of total income; 167 million people still suffer from poverty, one in five children under-15 live in poverty, and the number of illiterates exceeds 35 million.

Half of our youth do not have secondary education or a ninth grade education, but, in the lower income sector, 78% do not complete their studies. Two thirds of the new generation do not reach university.

The number of victims of organized crime and violence, which threatens the stability and progress of nations, is increasing. What would be the thoughts of the tens of millions of marginalized on democracy and human rights? What would their opinion be regarding political models? What would they argue about election laws? Is this the civil society which governments and international organizations take into account? What would they say if they were consulted on economic and monetary policies?

Little do many of the industrialized States have to show our region in this respect, where half of youth are unemployed, the crisis is heaped onto the workers, and students are repressed while the bankers are protected, unionization is prevented, lower wages are paid to women for equal work, inhumane policies are applied against immigrants, racism, xenophobia, violent extremism and neo-fascist tendencies are on the rise, and where citizens do not vote because they see no alternative to political corruption, or they know that election promises are soon forgotten.

To achieve social inclusion and environmental sustainability, we are obliged to create our own vision regarding economic systems, patterns of production and consumption, the relationship between economic growth and development, and also, the effectiveness of political models.

We must overcome the structural gaps, ensure high quality free education, free universal health coverage, social security for all, equal opportunities, the full exercise of all human rights for all people. Within such efforts, an elementary duty will be solidarity and defense of the interests of the Caribbean and, in particular, Haiti.

A new international economic, financial and monetary order is required, where the interests and needs of the countries of the South, and of the majority, are accommodated and prioritized, in which those who impose the concentration of capital and neoliberalism do not prevail.

The [UN] post 2015 Development Agenda must provide solutions to the structural problems of economies of the region, and generate the changes that will lead to sustainable development.

It is also essential to build a world of peace, governed by the Principles of the United Nations Charter and International Law, without which development is impossible.

The signing by heads of state and government of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace marked a historic step forward and provides a reference for relations between our states and with the rest of the world. Solidarity in Our America will be decisive to advancing common interests.

We express vigorous condemnation of the unacceptable and unjustified unilateral sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and the continuing external intervention aimed at creating a climate of instability in this sister nation.

Cuba, profoundly familiar with all these tales, having endured them itself for over 50 years, reiterates its firmest support to the Bolivarian Revolution and the legitimate government led by President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

We join the Argentine Republic in its claim to the Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. We support the South American nation and its President Cristina Fernández, who faces attacks from hedge funds and the decisions of venal courts, in violation of the sovereignty of this country.

We reaffirm our solidarity with the people and government of Ecuador, led by Rafael Correa, in support of their demand for compensation for environmental damage caused by transnational Chevron in Ecuador's Amazon. As we have said before, the Community will be incomplete as long as Puerto Rico is absent. Its colonial situation is unacceptable, and its Latin American and Caribbean character leaves no room for doubt.

In the Colombian peace process, the agreements reached by the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia -- People's Army in the conversations taking place in Havana are significant. Never before have they advanced so much in the direction of achieving peace.

Cuba, in its capacity as guarantor and venue of these talks, will continue providing the necessary facilities and contributing as much as possible to an end to the conflict, and the construction of a just and lasting peace in the sister nation of Colombia.

We resolutely support, as we have done to date, the just demands of Caribbean countries for reparations for the damages caused by slavery and colonialism, as well as resolutely opposing the decision to deprive them of vital financial resources on the basis of technocratic pretexts characterizing them as middle-income countries. We recognize the excellent developments achieved in the CELAC-China Forum and regional links with the BRICS group.

We reiterate our concern regarding the enormous and growing military expenditures imposed on the world by the United States and NATO, such as the attempt to extend their aggressive presence to the borders of Russia, with which we have historic, fraternal and mutually beneficial relations.

We energetically oppose the imposition of unilateral and unjust sanctions on this nation. The growing aggression of the NATO military doctrine and the development of unconventional warfare -- which have already had devastating consequences and grave results -- threaten peace and international security.

For Cuba, the principal of the sovereign equality of all states and peoples' right to self-determination is inalienable.

The United Nations General Assembly must use its faculties to safeguard international peace and security, given the Security Council's double standards, excesses and omissions.

Full membership must be offered to Palestine without further delay, to which the people and government of Cuba convey their solidarity.

The Security Council's veto, which ensures that Israel's crimes go unpunished, must end. Africa, where our roots also lie, does not need advice or interference, but the transfer of financial resources, technology and fair trade.

We will forever defend the legitimate interests of the nations with which we struggle, shoulder to shoulder, against colonialism and apartheid, and with which we maintain relations of fraternity and cooperation.

We always remember their unwavering solidarity and support. Cuba's voice will tirelessly defend just causes and the interests of Southern countries and will remain faithful to their objectives and common positions, in the knowledge that homeland is humanity.

The foreign policy of the Cuban Revolution will remain faithful to its principles. Esteemed colleagues: Last December 17, saw the return to the homeland of Cuban anti-terrorists, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, who together with Fernando González and René González are a source of pride and an example of conviction.

The President of the United States acknowledged the failure of the nation's policy toward Cuba, implemented for over 50 years, the country's complete isolation as a result; and the damages which the blockade has caused to our people. He has ordered a review of the obviously unjustifiable inclusion of the island on the list of state sponsors of international terrorism. Also on that day, he announced the decision to reestablish US diplomatic relations with our government.

These changes are the result of almost a century and a half of heroic struggle and loyalty to principles of the Cuban people. They were also made possible thanks to the new era our region is experiencing, and to the firm, valiant demands made by the governments and peoples of CELAC.

These changes vindicate Our America, which worked in close collaboration, in the United Nations and all other spheres, to achieve this objective. Preceded by the Alba Summit in Cumaná, Venezuela, the discussions held in the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Puerto España, Trinidad and Tobago, led President Obama, at that time recently elected, to propose a new beginning with Cuba.

In Cartagena, Colombia, in 2012, a strong debate took place in which the blockade was unanimously and categorically rejected, compelling an important US leader to describe the occasion as the great failure of Cartagena, or disaster -- was the exact phrase -- and during which Cuba's exclusion from these events was debated.

Ecuador, in protest, had decided not to participate. Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia stated that they would not attend another summit without the presence of Cuba, a sentiment which received support from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

The Caribbean Community assumed a similar stance. Mexico and the remaining nations also agreed. Panamanian President, Juan Carlos Varela, before his inauguration, resolutely announced that he would invite Cuba, with full rights and equality of conditions, to the Seventh Summit of the Americas, and that is what he did.

Cuba immediately confirmed that it would attend. This demonstrates Marti's precision when he wrote, "One just principle from the depths of a cave is more powerful than an army." (Applause)

To all those present, I express Cuba's most profound gratitude. To the 188 states which voted against the blockade in the United Nations; to those who made a similar demand at the General Assembly and international summits and conferences; and to all the popular movements, political forces, parliaments and personalities who tirelessly worked to achieve this objective, on behalf of Cuba, I sincerely thank you. To the people of the United States who expressed growing opposition to the hostile policy and the blockade, imposed for over five decades, I also convey our appreciation and friendly sentiments.

These outcomes show that governments with profound differences can find a solution to their problems, through respectful dialogue and exchanges on the basis of sovereign equality and reciprocity, for the benefit of their respective nations.

As I have repeatedly stated, Cuba and the United States must learn the art of civilized co-existence, based on respect for the differences which exist between both governments and cooperation on issues of common interest, which contribute to solving the challenges we are facing in the hemisphere and the world.

However, it must not be supposed that, in order to achieve this, Cuba would renounce its ideals of independence and social justice, or abandon a single one of our principles, nor cede a millimeter in the defense of our national sovereignty.

We will not invite, or accept any attempt to advise or exert pressure regarding our internal affairs. We have earned this sovereign right through great sacrifices and at the price of great risks.

Could diplomatic relations be restored without resuming the financial services of the Cuban Interests Section and its Consular Office in Washington, denied as a consequence of the financial blockade? How can diplomatic relations be restored without removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of international terrorism? What will be the future conduct of US diplomats in Havana, in regards to observing the diplomatic and consular norms established by International Conventions?

This is what our delegation has said to the State Department during the bilateral talks held last week, and more meetings are required to address these issues.

We have shared with the President of the United States our willingness to advance toward normalization of bilateral relations, once diplomatic relations are reestablished, which would imply the adopting of measures by both parties to improve the climate between the two countries, to resolve other pending problems, and move forward on cooperation.

The current situation discreetly opens an opportunity for the hemisphere to encounter new, superior ways to cooperate, which would serve the two Americas. This would allow pressing problems to be resolved, and open new paths.

The text of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace constitutes an indispensable foundation for this, including the recognition that every state has the inalienable right to chose its own political, economic, social, cultural system, without interference of any kind on the part of another state, which constitutes an undeniable principle of international law, The principal problem has not been resolved.

The economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes great human and economic damage and violates international law, must end.

I remember the memorandum written by Undersecretary Mallory, in April of 1960, which, given the lack of an effective political opposition [in Cuba], proposed the objective of creating hunger, desperation and suffering to provoke the overthrowal of the revolutionary government. Now, everything seems to indicate that the objective is to create an artificial political opposition though economic, political and communications means.

The reestablishment of diplomatic relations is the beginning of a process which can progress toward normalization of bilateral relations, but this will not be possible as long as the blockade exists, or as long as the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base is not returned (Applause), or radio and television broadcasts which violate international norms continue, or just compensation is not provided our people for the human and economic damage they have suffered.

It would not be ethical, just, or acceptable that something were requested of Cuba in return.

If these problems are not resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States makes no sense.

Neither can it be expected that Cuba would agree to negotiate aspects mentioned with respect to our absolutely sovereign, internal affairs. Progress was made in these recent negotiations because we treated each other respectfully, as equals.

To continue advancing, this is how it must be. We have carefully followed the US President's announcement of some executive decisions to modify certain aspects of the blockade's application. The measures announced are very limited.

Prohibitions on credit and the use of the dollar in international financial transactions remain in place; individual travel by US citizens is hampered under the system of licenses for so-called people-to-people exchanges; these are conditioned by subversive goals; and maritime travel is not allowed.

Prohibitions remain on the acquisition in other markets of equipment and technology with more than 10% US components, and on imports by the United States of goods containing Cuban raw materials, among many, many others. President Barack Obama could decisively use his broad executive powers to substantially modify the application of the blockade, that which is in his hands, even without a decision by Congress.

He could permit, in other sectors of the economy, all that he has authorized in the arena of telecommunications, with evident objectives of political influence in Cuba.

His decision to hold a discussion with Congress on eliminating the blockade is significant. US government spokespeople have been very clear in specifying that they are now changing their methods, but not their policy objectives, and insist on continuing to intervene in our internal affairs, which we are not going to accept. Our US counterparts should not plan on developing relations with Cuban society as if there were no sovereign government in Cuba. (Applause).

No one should dream that the new policy announced means acceptance of the existence of a socialist revolution 90 miles from Florida.

They want so-called civil society to be present at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, and this is what Cuba has always said. We have protested what has occurred at the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle, at the Summits of the Americas in Miami and Quebec, at the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, and whenever the G-7 or International Monetary Fund meet, when civil society is placed behind steel fences, faces brutal police repression, or is confined to locations dozens of kilometers from the events.

Of course Cuban civil society will attend, and I hope there are no restrictions on our country's non-governmental organizations, which obviously have no interest, or any status within the OAS, but are recognized by the UN.

I hope to be able to see in Panama the popular movements and non-governmental organizations which advocate for nuclear disarmament, for the environment, against neoliberalism, the Occupy Wall Street and the indignados of this region, university and high school students, farmers, trade unions, communities of original peoples, organizations which oppose the contamination caused by fracking, those defending the rights of immigrants and denouncing torture and extrajudicial executions, police brutality, racist practices, those who demand equal pay for women for equal work, those demanding compensation for damage caused by transnational corporations.

Nevertheless, the announcements made December 17 have generated world recognition, and President Obama has received very broad support within his own country. Some forces in the United States will try to abort this process which is beginning.

They are the same enemies of a just relationship between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean, those who disrupt bilateral relations with many countries in our region with that nation, those who always blackmail and pressure.

We know that ending the blockade will be a long, difficult process, which will require the support, the mobilization and resolute action of all persons of good will in the United States and the world; approval on the part of the United Nations General Assembly, during its next session, of the resolution calling for its elimination; and in particular, concerted action by Our America.

Esteemed Heads of State and Government,

Dear friends,

We congratulate Costa Rica, President Solis and his government for the work done at the helm of CELAC. We welcome and offer our full support to Ecuador and President Correa, who will lead the Community in 2015. Many thanks. (Applause).

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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