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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 5)

Alarcon: Yes. This will only come from a major change in U.S. attitude, especially with the immigration [of Latin Americans] to the United States. We are neighbors. The U.S. needs to develop a special relationship with Latin America. This is not one of domination. America in a way is part of Latin America and the Caribbean. The highest concentration of Spanish speakers is in Mexico and the United States. Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami...these places are where the highest increases in the Spanish-speaking population is happening.

What is going on is not a Cuban invention, but Cuba is part of it. It is not a diabolical Chavez invention, but it has had the support of Chavez. And you have had practically everybody in Latin America working together. It is not just the radicals, the extreme left-wingers. But you have very accepted progressives. This is reality and you cannot ignore it. Or even defeat it. The Cold War techniques don't work. You already have too many problems with terrorism and the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East. What's a little country in the Caribbean?

CA: Do you see any changes in the embargo in the future? You don't even have any discourse with the U.S. government.

Alarcon: You will see the dismantling or the suspension of certain aspects of the embargo in the future. You see every day more discussion of this. For example, the travel ban, I see movement against this day by day.

CA: Do you support free travel between the U.S. and Cuba?

Alarcon: It would be very good. You feel sorry when you see a country that is trying to teach everyone in the world about freedom and then they are afraid of other ideas and perspectives. You really are the most important beacon of freedom in the world, but how do you not permit these small people of an island to come to America and see the light, and you do not permit your own people to bring that light to that island? I can't understand it. I would abandon the travel ban immediately. Of course. Americans can travel around the world and not Cuba? That's not the way.

CA: More Cubans should be allowed to visit America as well?

Alarcon: More Cubans to America and more Americans to Cuba...so on and so forth. That would be consistent with the humanistic approach of America. The U.S. government's position is unsustainable. It contradicts its own foundations. And the purpose of that ban is to damage Cuba's economy and to hurt its tourism. But honestly, who cares? We receive millions of tourists from other lands. We are doing business with other countries. You are just shooting yourselves in the foot without any advantage.

CA: What do you see for the future of Cuba? What will tomorrow bring Cuba?

Alarcon: I really don't think that anybody should foresee the future. I don't think that it is a good idea to have a notion of where everybody is going.... The future has to be built by humankind. We have to invent the future. And the first thing is to save life and save the right to a future. I might disagree with Al Gore on many things, but I think he made a very important contribution with his movie [An Inconvenient Truth].


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