Cuba is ready for an Eventual Diplomatic Rupture with Washington

December 15, 2019

Carlos Fernández de Cossío, director-general of United States affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba. Photo:

The Cuban government is ready for an eventual rupture of diplomatic relations with Washington, but “we don’t want it,” Carlos Fernández de Cossío, Director General for the United States of the Foreign Ministry, told AFP.

After months of tensions between the two countries, “we must be aware that this could get even worse,” because “the people who are in charge of U.S. policy toward the Western Hemisphere today are people with very extreme and aggressive behaviors and postulations toward our country,” he warns.

“We know that their determination is to break all existing ties, to close the embassies”, reopened in 2015 when Havana and Washington re-established their diplomatic relations, interrupted in 1961.

And “we are ready, prepared for an eventuality like that, which we don’t seek, and we don’t want,” says the diplomat.

On December 17, 2014, when Barack Obama and Raúl Castro announced the historic rapprochement between the two former enemies of the Cold War, Fernández de Cossío, then ambassador to South Africa, was on vacation on the island.

“It was an emotional moment for the Cuban people and I had the opportunity to be here. That announcement filled Cubans with hope,” he recalls.

Five years later there has a “contradictory balance” of the road traveled.

There were the two positive first years, marked by the ease of travel and trade between Cuba and the United States, the opening of direct telephone communication and Obama’s historic visit to Havana.

Afterwards, the relationship received a bucket of cold water with Donald Trump’s arrival to the White House.

“During the last three years there has been a progressive erosion, until we have reached the present moment, in which the U.S. government has clearly declared its aggressive purpose against Cuba,” Cossio explained.

This shows that as long as Washington maintains the embargo – in force since 1962 and which Obama was not able to lift it under his mandate – “it is very difficult to seriously think of sustainable progress in favor of the bilateral relationship, because

now the relationship is “at a very low point,” he says, and he assures that “the effort to deprive Cuba, a nation of 11 million inhabitants, of the supply of fuel is a fairly drastic measure.”

As pressure measures from Washington highlights “the purpose of pursuing Cuba’s international medical cooperation (…), an extreme policy that no previous U.S. government had reached.”

The Trump administration is focusing its criticism of the Cuban government on two issues: human rights and support for the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

With respect to human rights, Fernández de Cossío believes that this is a “pretext, a totally hypocritical argument” from a country that has supported “the most brutal regimes that have existed on the planet”.

In addition, “if one thinks or says that Cuba supports the government of Venezuela, whoever says so is absolutely right,” but “it is false to say that Cuba has a military contingent of 25,000 soldiers in Venezuela,” says the diplomat.

Can the upcoming U.S. elections lead to a more peaceful horizon for Havana? “No one knows what is going to happen in 2020 in the United States,” replies Fernández de Cossío.

But he claimed,”Cuba has historically shown and continues to be willing to build a respectful, civilized relationship with the United States.”

And he believes that “the Democratic candidates who aspire to the presidency all seem inclined, at least in their public statements, to return to the direction that the Obama administration began, and that could be a sign of hope.”

Source: Cubadebate,  translation, Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau