Reactions from Cuba to the Obama-Castro agreements / 14ymedio

14ymedio, Havana, 17 December 2014 – A source from the US State Department has told 14ymedio that now begins the most difficult work, that there will be a lot of criticism, but also that many are feeling optimistic with this Wednesday’s achievement since the announcement of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States. “We also have to keep in mind that President Barack Obama has announced this series of measures, but Congress can still place obstacles in the way of putting many of them into practice,” the source clarified.

Dagoberto Valdés, director of the magazine Convivencia (Coexistence), said, “It makes me happy to know that diplomatic relations are being reestablished between Cuba and the United States. I consider this as a first step towards normalization and coexistence between the two countries, I salute the release of the political prisoners, and believe that this reestablishment of ties will contribute to focusing attention on the fundamental problem of the Cuban people, which is relations between the Government and citizens. I hope that the dialog that has been established with another country can quickly be realized between a government and its own citizens.” Valdés also highlighted the words of president Raúl Castro about the need to learn to coexist among differences: “This is a breakthrough for coexistence.”

Eliécer Ávila also considers the policy shift announced by Obama to be positive. “The changes are already here and are a reality, it is the job of civil society to adapt and strengthen its strategy to continue to struggle for human rights in this new scenario, which I hope will end up being favorable to those who dream of a prosperous and free Cuba. Those who want to look back and not look forward are wasting their time,” he pointed out.

The economist Marta Beatriz Roque, however, says it is too early to have an opinion. “We have to wait to see how events unfold. Right now we are trying to find out the names of the political prisoners the government is going to release and under what conditions; then we can offer an opinion.”

José Daniel Ferrer, executive secretary of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), argues that it can be positive if Barack Obama’s administration has decided to take steps to normalize relations with the Havana regime, “If and only if they don’t forget the commitment they’ve made many times and in public with Cuban civil society with regards to respect for human rights in our country.” He added, “The solution to our problems is in the non-violent struggle of Cubans seeking their rights and freedoms, everything else is secondary.”

Ferrer believes that the American government has made a gesture of goodwill, but, “Now we have to see if the Cuban regime reciprocates and demonstrates its goodwill in practice. I strikes me that while the secret talks were being held, the Cuban government postponed conversations with the European Union at exactly the point when they were going to talk about human rights.”

On the streets of Havana, people expressed great happiness and everyone relates what happened with this Wednesday’s date, the day dedicated to St. Lazarus, a very powerful saint among Cubans. Projected on the TV screens at the Carlos II Market, located in the center of the Cuban capital, were the speeches of both leaders. In the audience, many threw kisses to Obama and hugged each other.