"It should not be thought that to improve relations with the United States, Cuba is going to renounce the very ideas for which it has fought so long" - Raúl Castro, president of Cuba, Dec. 20, 2014
*Updated content Dec. 20 (below)*
One day after Washington and Havana jointly announced an historic diplomatic thaw which many believe will lead to the eventual cancellation of the almost 52 year old U.S. economic embargo of the island, the daughter of president Raúl Castro emphasized today the one party nation will never accept capitalism as its economic model.
"If they're hoping by these changes to make Cuba return to capitalism and to once again become a servile nation at the feet of United States economic hegemony, they must be dreaming," said Mariela Castro, niece of former president Fidel Castro who stepped down for health reasons in 2006 and later resigned his duties in 2008.
What Cubans are happy about is that the country may finally begin to economically prosper after the half-century American embargo, which has cost it more than $1 trillion dollars in damages since 1962, added Marisela, a lesbian activist who frequently speaks out on gay rights and homophobic discrimination issues.
Cuba is solidly committed to socialism and will remain so, said Marisela, echoing the thoughts of key government officials in recent months. The Cuban Communist Party is the only lawful one and may alone offer a slate of candidates in the island nation's periodic elections.
"I believe the opening with the U.S is going to give us many more tools to move ahead with social programs which will strengthen our health system, public education, sports, arts, and the pursuit of science, all of which have been greatly frustrated by the American embargo," said Marisela.
President Barack Obama emphasized yesterday that he has no unilateral authority to terminate the embargo. Only the U.S. Congress can - a congress in which both legislative chambers will be solidly in the hands of the Republican opposition, many of whom remain virulently opposed to a warming of relations with the Castro regime.
But the U.S. and Cuba will exchange full ambassadors for the first time since diplomatic relations were ruptured during the Kennedy administration.
Today Mexican president president Enrique Peña Nieto telephoned Raúl Castro to congratulate him for the diplomatic breakthrough, which will include Cuba's first ever invitation to attend the Summit of the Americas next spring. Colombia's president Santos calls for normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations.
Dec. 20 update - Today Cuban president Raúl Castro added to his daughter's words with these:
"It should not be thought that to improve relations with the United States, Cuba is going to renounce the very ideas for which it has fought so long. It must be understood that Cuba is a sovereign state, whose people have chosen a socialist path by free referendum. We are disposed to take up any topic with our colleagues in the United States, but the agenda must also include their own history relating to democracy and respect for basic human rights. Everything is up for discussion and is on the table - everything in Cuba, and everything in the United States."
Oct. 29, 2013 - United Nations again condemns U.S. embargo of Cuba, 188-2
Dec. 17. 2014 - Cuba swaps Alan Gross for "Miami Three" prisoners
in favor of gay marriage. But on this day she had a different message for him on the Miami Five: release them ("Give me Five now").
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