LIKE many others, I followed the visit by Barack Obama to our country and experienced mixed feelings: on the one hand, the healthy patriotic and revolutionary pride of witnessing a U.S. president rectifying the policy toward Cuba and repeating on our own soil that the blockade must be ended, reaffirming respect for our sovereignty and independence, which we Cubans have earned with our sacrifice, our sweat, our blood, our history; and on the other hand, the danger posed by those who believe that with these lukewarm changes, the contradiction between the interests of U.S. imperialism and the Cuban nation has disappeared. But it was only after listening to his speech that Tuesday morning that I decided to write this, because, as Fidel warned over half a century ago, from now on everything will be more difficult.
Who could doubt the enormous complexity of U.S. society, where black and white analysis is of little value?
A turbulent history in which battles for independence against British colonialism and genocidal onslaughts against the indigenous population intermingle; an impetuous industrial development and a cruel internecine war that killed more than 600,000 human beings; paradigmatic creativity and inventiveness in science and technology and a warmongering and expansionist military apparatus of which Mexico and Cuba – to take just two examples from our region – have been nearby victims; a society with extraordinary cultural expressions in music, literature and film along with a messianism that does not honor those assets; industrious and enterprising citizens over whom, however, an imperialist state machinery rests heavy; the richest and the most indebted country in the world; the country that demands human rights of others and least respects them itself, as evidenced by over half a century of economic blockade against Cuba; a society in which violence serves as the guiding principle throughout its history.
In short, a country full of contractions in which it would be naive to think that the current rapprochement with Cuba is simply the result of the thinking, will and resourcefulness of Obama, and not an integral part of the interests of the real power in the U.S. – that of big business.
If Barack Hussein Obama had proven impractical to the powers that govern the U.S., it would have been very difficult for him to have been elected president in 2008 and reelected in 2011, and the change of policy toward Cuba would not have initiated.
This is the same Obama who just two months after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, sent tens of thousands of soldiers to Afghanistan; the same who has authorized hundreds of drone attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians in several countries across the world; the same who participated in the plot that destroyed Libya; he who has armed the so-called Syrian opposition strengthening the self-named Islamic State; he who approved the supply of arms to Kiev after the coup; the President behind the “Arab spring” of fatal consequences in that area of the world. This is the same Obama, as the poet would say, who could do nothing to surprise you.
In effect, there are two Obamas, a “good” one and a “bad” one. We’re not talking about a bipolar personality, but a single person, a career politician, who beyond his personal characteristics and history, his way of doing domestic politics, and even his individual inclinations, and his likely aim of leaving a legacy as the U.S. President who changed policy toward Cuba, he has always been and continues to be functional to the strategic interests of the powers that govern the U.S.
It must be recognized that he is a politician with charisma, stage presence, a sense of media opportunity, communication skills – probably the best and most capable at hand today to disguise the strategic objectives of U.S. imperialism toward Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean.
During this visit to our country, President Obama did not miss any opportunity to call for an end to the blockade, which ultimately are the words of someone who will soon disappear from the U.S. government, phrases that he can state now, that he can claim responsibility for, as he does not aspire to, nor could he, run for another Presidential term. He can make this call as the formalities of the northern country’s political system allow him to present himself as someone with no responsibility whatsoever for the blockade, as someone opposed to the blockade, as the advocate of a new policy, when for almost all of his term he endorsed the blockade with his inertia.
But back to his deficient speech. Since a thorough analysis can not be undertaken in a short article, I will only highlight some aspects that stand out at first glance while, as expressed by various analysts, much more is revealed by what he didn’t say, than the little he did, no matter how choice his words. This is the same Obama who could do much more given his Presidential powers and yet has not.
This is precisely the point, to read between the lines of his statements, which is important especially for young people whose lived experiences of this northern neighbor do not include criminal sabotage, Playa Girón, the October crisis, counterrevolutionary groups, attacks against our leaders, biological aggression, and so on, and for whom the effects of the blockade have been mitigated by the protection offered by society and their families.
There is no doubt: Obama is the gentle and seductive face of the same danger. He made no apology for crimes against Cuba, he did not mention the Guantánamo Naval Base, he did not speak of the Cuban Adjustment Act, he did not explain why he hasn’t done more to dismantle the blockade, given the powers he possesses to do so, and there were many other incredible omissions.
Meanwhile, it was clear that he does not want to cooperate with Cuba, but rather with that part of our society which offers the best conditions for the strategic interests he represents. He hoped to seduce youth, encourage selfishness and the thirst for purely individual improvement, presenting capitalist growth as a universal panacea and not the cause of the crises, or the danger of the destruction of the environment and the disappearance of the human species. He hoped to contribute to the fragmentation of Cuban society in order to recover U.S. hegemony here and in our region. In his speech the conceited tone of someone who “grants us the right” – that no one need grant us – “to solve our own problems” was evident. We must now explain and demonstrate this.
Obama’s visit is a victory of the Cuban people and all peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, as it demonstrates that the United States of America has been forced to recognize that it was thwarted by our dignity, and has now chosen to concoct a detour. As such, we should recall the words of Julius Fučík at the end of its historical Report from the gallows and “be vigilant”.
Obama concluded his visit to Cuba. He was – along with his beautiful family for whom Cubans have a natural affection – welcomed, treated and bid farewell politely by a people and authorities who are proud of their hospitality, respect and willingness to dialogue without impositions, but whose majorities are well aware of the land on which they stand, and are bursting with the sovereign spirit of Martí and Fidel, that spirit which was evident as the entire Latinoamericano Stadium chanted: “Raúl, Raúl, Raúl…”
 In a book due to be published by the Editorial de La Mujer de La Habana, I dedicate an entire chapter to analysis of Obama’s speech at the White House on December 17, 2014, aspects of which I take up again here.