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Cuba Today: An Interview with Ricardo Alarcon

The president of Cuba's National Assembly outlines the country's policies and goals in the face of Bush administration hostility
James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
Cuba, May/June 2007

(continued from page 4)

CA: Well, he did go to Mexico, if I remember correctly.

Alarcon: Going to Mexico is like going to Canada. It's not the same thing. He is going to five countries in five days...Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico. Why is everybody stressing this point in Washington now? It's because you see countries changing everywhere in Latin America. And then you see an astonishingly stagnant U.S. policy and attitude. I can't tell you how I enjoy reading and listening to the official American discourse on Latin America. How Latin America is fine and how democracy is everywhere. And that Cuba needs to join that trend and that it is the only issue for them and so on.

But this is being said when in Latin America everywhere, you are having new governments, which are criticizing their relationship with the current U.S. government and developing relationships with Cuba.

CA: And, of course, Venezuela.

Alarcon: You would have to be in a madhouse to say that Cuba is the isolated one and the U.S. isn't. You would have to be in a madhouse not to see that it is the other way around. Just a few years ago, Washington's will was practically law in this hemisphere. But it is not like that anymore. That is a big change, but the U.S. government is still speaking like it is the 1950s in the height of the Cold War.

CA: Cuba seems to be very active in building these relations with other Latin American countries.

Alarcon: Well, Felipe Perez Roque was just in Honduras strengthening our diplomatic relations. He is now in Panama. These are examples of this.

CA: So you are saying that America not only has little or no relationship with Cuba but you are saying that it is something much larger? America has a bad relationship with Latin America in general?

Alarcon: Exactly.... I hesitate to say this. I have more than a hope. I have a conviction that the United States will have to do something to readdress its situation in Latin America. And we are very much part of Latin America. We are very much part of what is going on in the real world there. They are still talking as if we are in the Cold War, and it has nothing to do with reality. They are still criticizing us because we do not change. They say that we are not changing in the direction of the rest of Latin America. But they are crazy. Latin America is changing in our direction and we are all changing together. They have to realize that one way or another. Cuba is not the most important problem for them. They have a much larger problem now. They cannot ignore Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and others, not to mention the Caribbean. It is a new world altogether.

CA: You are saying, then, that a new policy with Cuba will come from a new policy with Latin America?

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