Josefina Vidal, Director General of the U.S. division at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Cuban leader: ‘It’s up to US to dismantle its hostile policies’
By Emma Johnson, The Militant, Vol 80/No. 30, August 15, 2016
“Relations between Cuba and the U.S. have been asymmetric; therefore it is up to the U.S. to dismantle hostile unilateral policies,” said Josefina Vidal, who leads Cuba’s negotiating team with Washington. “Cuba doesn’t have any comparable policies.”
Vidal, director general for U.S. affairs at the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations, spoke to the Cuban Communist Party’s daily Granma on the anniversary of the reopening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington on July 20 last year, some 54 years after the U.S. government unilaterally severed diplomatic relations with Havana.
Since the 1959 deep-going social revolution in Cuba, which brought a workers and farmers government to power, Washington has used sabotage, an attempted invasion, diplomatic isolation and an unprecedented economic embargo to try to overturn the rule of the working class and its allies.
Recognizing that more than 50 years of this course had failed to accomplish its aims, President Barack Obama—and a substantial majority in the ruling class he represents—decided it was time to try something else. Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced Dec. 17, 2014, the beginning of talks to restore diplomatic relations. Simultaneously, the last of the Cuban Five, revolutionaries imprisoned by Washington for over 16 years, were released and returned home to Cuba.
Vidal said achievements of talks since then include the removal of Cuba from the State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism and the creatio
n of the Cuba-U.S. Bilateral Commission. “It was important to have a mechanism of this type to address unresolved issues, cooperation in areas of mutual interest and talks on bilateral and multilateral matters,” she said. Ten such agreements have been signed and others are currently being negotiated related to drug trafficking, search and rescue, ocean oil-spill response and meteorology.
Embargo remains in force
But the bulk of Washington’s economic embargo still remains in force, she said. Imports from the U.S. to Cuba are severely restricted, exports from Cuba to the U.S. virtually impossible and banking relations have not been normalized. Cuba can still not make financial transfers, and the U.S. government continues to impose heavy fines on banks and foreign financial entities that do business there.
The Obama administration has imposed penalties totaling more than $14 billion, “a record amount in the history of the application of the blockade against our country,” Vidal said, “on U.S. and foreign entities for their legitimate associations with Cuba.” This continues to have “an intimidating effect on U.S. and international banks. Thus far, the U.S. government has failed to issue a political statement or legal document explaining to world banks that operations with Cuba are legitimate, and that they won’t be sanctioned.”
Article continues here: Victim Vidal
Editor’s Note: Vidal was thrown out of the United States in May 2003 as part of a mass expulsion of 16 Cuban spies serving under diplomatic cover.