14ymedio, 24 May 2018 — Cuba’s new president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, does not believe that “the current position of the United States Government towards the Island is eternal,” and he believes that “points of contact remain” and there is a “will” to continue advancing in a relationship based on respect and equality.
Diaz-Canel offered these reflections on Thursday during a meeting in Havana with some of the artists who participated in the Festival of the Arts of Cuba, held this month in Washington, which, according to the Cuban president, demonstrated how art can build bridges between the two countries. The comments were published in Cuban state media on Thursday.
“I do not believe that the position that exists right now is eternal and events like the one you participated in in Washington (…) can open the way,” said the president, who emphasized that the artists “in addition to talent and commitment, showed that Cuba must be respected.”
At the meeting, which took place in a cultural center in Havana, Diaz-Canel recalled that the Donald Trump administration is making “an effort to roll back the process of reestablishment through which we wanted to move towards a normalization of relations.” But “there are points of contact and there is a will that if there is respect and if there is equality, we can continue advancing in that construction,” he added.
In his opinion, the artists who traveled to the United States — among them great names of Cuban culture such as the dancer Alicia Alonso, the singer Omara Portuondo and the painter Roberto Fabelo — also proved the quality of the island’s system of education in the arts. ” You showed that we can live in peace despite our differences,” said the Cuban president.
He also proposed to staging a show in Havana that would bring together the content of the Arts of Cuba festival and the artistic presentations that took place in Lima last April on the occasion of the VIII Summit of the Americas.
Between May 8 and 20 the Kennedy Center, which has been called a temple to the arts in Washington DC, hosted the largest Cuban festival ever seen in the US, with more than 50 events and the participation of some 400 artists who represented the worlds of music, dance, theater, cinema, fashion, design and even cooking.
This is a hopeful event in the relationship between the two countries, which are experiencing moments of renewed tension since Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House, in contrast to the approach initiated in 2014 by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
The Republican president has frozen the process of normalization and has restricted trade and travel to the island, in addition to deploying only minimum staffing at the embassy in Havana, in response to the alleged sonic attacks suffered by US officials on the island, which the Cuban government denies having anything to do with.
On May 20, Trump called for a “better and freer future” for the Cuban people and denounced that the “Communist regime” that extinguishes “individual freedom and the right of self-determination” for its citizens. In a message marking the anniversary of Cuba’s independence — an event that the Havana government does not recognize — the New York mogul sent his “warmest wishes” and those of the first lady, Melania Trump, “to the people of Cuba who yearn for true freedom” and to Americans of Cuban origin in the United States. For the moment, the Cuban executive has not responded to these statements by the US president.
The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.