What Cubans expect from Obama

Original source: CubaNews

As expected, Barack Obama's electoral win has raised new questions all over the world given the United States of America's place in the current system of international relations.

We would be hard pressed to find a region or country whose links with the superpower are not important to their domestic and foreign policies.

That a non-white American has been elected president of the U.S. for the first time in history goes beyond the superpower's global policy or any consideration related to Obama's skin color or ethnic group. What matters is that it raises hopes for an end of the ferocious hostilities toward the revolutionary project embraced by our people as the crowning achievement of an independence struggle started 140 years ago against Spanish colonialism.

As we Cubans know only too well from our own hard experience, the facts and promises underlying this historic event – should they be fulfilled – would inevitably lead to a counterattack by the big financial and industrial/military corporations whose grim interests would be affected.

In order to defend both the status quo and their privileges, they not only count on the power of their weapons, but also on their tight grip on the media and most cultural and educational means, which they use to mess with people's minds and fool them into acting against their most elementary interests and rights within the framework of a legal and social order ruled by money and the marketplace which makes it sure that their wealth prevails over natural human aspirations of peace, solidarity and equality.

We Cubans have reason to expect that a president-elect who has promised change, himself an expression of change in the correlation of political forces right on the powerful neighbor's ground, will pave the way for a new stage in the relationship between Havana and Washington.

However, we are aware that in order to keep the promise he made to the popular movements and middle-class families who gave him their vote, Obama would have to stand up to the same US reactionary attitudes that have hindered the development of the Cuban Revolution for half a century.

If we follow that logic, this means a spectacular shift in the state of affairs between Cuba and the US as we have known them throughout the 20th century and the first years of the 21st.

And for such things to become real in the Caribbean region, the US must give up not only its age-old ambition to have a say in the island's fate, but also its thirst for global dominance. This is because Cuba cannot turn its back on longstanding commitments made to the Third World and the poor from rich nations whose solidarity has been in the final analysis its principal means of support to fight and resist for the last 50 years.

Millions of African Americans – an ethnic group who suffered from a slave trade that remained legal until 1865, followed by a century of Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan's terrorist outrages capped later on by the violent repressive action against the civil rights struggle in the 1960s, from which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and many other leaders of stature came up.

We Cubans, of course, had no right to vote in this election, but the fact that we have been victims of the same cruel policies makes it clear to us that this victory of the American people could give rise to a period of goodwill, peace and neighborly gestures in the region and fuel democratization in international relations.

Cuba only seeks respect for its independence from Washington when the new government takes over on January 20, 2009.

It has been repeatedly said that Cuba's support to Obama's candidacy stemmed from a wish to see the end of the economic blockade or the release of the five heroic Cuban anti-terrorists who were passed unjust prison sentences in the US more than ten years ago. Or perhaps from hopes that a different administration could put a stop to the attacks on and threats to the island and make it possible to devote all human and material resources to the Cuban people's economic and social development. Or to spread to the full the profoundly democratic character of the Cuban socialist project, without any hostile, powerful neighbor interfering in its domestic and foreign affairs.

Valid though they may be, all these reasons fit into a single hope: that by express wish of the American people a US government be elected that respects Cuba's independence.

-A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann