Cuba is slowly but surely working its way out of the political and economic hole it found itself in after the fall of the socialist trading system. As Fidel Castro put it, Cuba has "had to be like the phoenix and raise ourselves from the ashes" of the post-cold-war world.
Just recently, the newly formed Association of Caribbean States (ACS) invited Castro to speak at the 25-nation trading group's inaugural meeting in Trinidad and Tobago. "You are setting an example for the rest of Latin America," Castro told the ACS delegates, who intend to turn their region into a trading block freed of U.S. control. "In 200 years of independence, Latin America has not yet achieved the cooperation and unity found here," declared the robust Cuban president, who added that he was "honored" to speak on behalf of his defiant island.
The New York Times has been running occasional articles which point out the futility of U.S. policy towards Cuba, whose economy has revivived due to the support its government has among the people, hundreds of international joint ventures and growing regional solidarity. The Times official position, shared by most U.S. dailies, is to lift the blockade and normalize Cuba relations. But the wheels of government turn slowly, as everybody knows, particularly when those wheels are stuck in a right-wing pot hole in the political highway.
Cuba's diplomacy is highly regarded, given the great difficulties the Revolution has overcome. Perhaps no other country is as respected for its ideals and achievements as is Cuba. U.S. foreign policy, on the other hand, is regarded by most nations with fear, as its aims are typically realized through the not-too-subtle threat of its awesome power. And the outright bribery of foreign officials by the U.S. is widely regarded with contempt.
Last month, solidarity activists in Colorado were pleased when Rep. Pat Schroeder finally endorsed a bill introduced by Rep. Charles Rangel which, if enacted, would end over 35 years of bad U.S. policy toward Cuba. Schroeder, a friend of the President, has been show in responding to her constituents' demands that she distance herself from the White House on this issue. Now she has put her name to legislation which signals to Clinton that it's time for the U.S. to adopt more friendly relations with our Caribbean neighbor.
It will impress Clinton even more when we get Rep. David Skaggs to sign on to this legislation. Skaggs has positioned himself closer to Clinton, and is seen in the White House as a more reliable ally than Schroeer who has recently become more outspoken in her liberal views.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has voted three years in a row for the U.S. to end its unilateral blockade of Cuba. Even the Vatican, no friend of socialism, has condemned the U.S. for its cruel intransigence in the face of world opinion, and blesses Cuba's right to choose its own path.
As part of the world body's 50th Anniversary commemorations, Fidel Castro is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly in October. Predictably, right-wingers in Congress are pressuring the State Department to deny Castro a visa, a move which would be seen as violating the travel rights normally granted world leaders having U.S. business to attend to in New York City.
The National Network on Cuba is mobilizing citizens for mass demonstrations at the U.N. on October 21, preceded by marches in Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco a week earlier. Participants will include trade unionists, professional people, religious and community leaders, students and business people -- all demanding an end to the U.S. blockade.
There is much to be hopeful about in recent developments relating to Cuba. An international movement in support of Cuba has arisen, overcoming years of U.S. bullying and propaganda. The 37-year- old Cuban Revolution has matured and displayed a new dynamism which can point the way out of this difficult moment in history.
Cuba is revitalizing its progressive heritage as it continues to build an alternative society. Now, as political and economic crises rock Europe and the Americas, and entire nations lie in ruins, the human values upheld by Cuba are once again inspiring millions who dream of a better world.
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