Cuba has just been removed from the list of state-sponsors of
terrorism. How do you think this will affect Cuba’s relations with the
First of all, there is no reason to have Cuba on such a list. We
should have never been there. However, the US decided to do this back in
1992. On May 29, the removal was approved.
We consider this a very positive step in eliminating the different obstacles to forging stable bilateral relations with the US.
And of course, it is a victory for Cuba and it is a victory for
international solidarity, because the world knows that Cuba is not a
terrorist state. The world knows that Cuba has been a victim of state
terrorism exercised by the US against Cuba, with more than 5000 Cuban
victims as a result.
Even today, there are real terrorists who still freely walk on the US’s streets.
The Cuban Five were five Cuban patriots jailed in the US in 1998
for infiltrating and collecting information on terrorist groups in
Florida in order to stop attacks on Cuba. Now that the Cuban Five are
free and back in their home country, what sort of role are they planning
Well, first of all, the Cuban Five are happy to be back with their
families and the Cuban people. They are very active in the everyday
activities of Cuban life.
One of them, Fernando Gonzalez, is the deputy president of ICAP. He
is in charge of relations with the solidarity movements from North
America and Latin America.
It means that Fernando is now meeting with groups and individuals
from a number of countries in the region — from the US, Canada, Puerto
Rico among others. And the other members are quite active as well.
They themselves have said that they wish to do something new in order
to really deserve their label as “Five Heroes”. They say they
understand that what they have done is a very important contribution to
the Cuban Revolution, but they do not wish to live the remainder of
their lives simply being “The Cuban Five”.
I believe they are expressing a true character of revolutionaries and
I think they are well prepared for exercising many responsibilities and
I remember the day when Fidel Castro received them and they spent
over five hours together. Fidel asked them, at the end of the meeting,
to use the high moral authority that they have to do great things for
Now that the five have returned, we feel that the international
solidarity movement itself has been strengthened five times. We wish to
use this strength to continue fighting against the economic blockade,
for the liberation of the political prisoners in the imperialist
countries, and of course, for the defence of Cuban sovereignty and the
right of Cuba to freely choose its own economic and political system.
With regards to the current negotiations between Cuba and the US,
what do you think are some of the concrete things that have been
achieved so far?
I would like to highlight the most important factor of these
negotiations — the current US administration is seated at the table with
the representatives of revolutionary Cuba.
The announcements of December 17, and conversations and meetings
between Obama and Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas are quite
significant. Until now, no other US administration has had the capacity
to recognise Cuba as an equal partner.
Many previous US leaders have stated that if a Castro was still
leader of Cuba, they would not recognise the political system or
government. Now, however, Cuba and the US are communicating in a
civilised manner. We have had the chance to demonstrate to them the
reality of Cuba and why they should respect our country.
The most important development has been building the conditions for
new relations between Cuba and the US. The major point regarding this
is the opening of embassies.
We believe this needs to take place despite the continuation of the
US blockade [in place since 1960], despite the US's continuous
occupation of Guantanamo Bay, despite constant US accusations of Cuba
breaching human rights.
How do you see the role of ICAP with these new developments?
ICAP still has the same responsibilities when it was founded — almost
55 years ago. Since the very start of the Cuban Revolution, we have
been receiving people from all over the world.
In fact, last year we received delegations and brigades from 82
countries. Now there is also a rise in the number of US citizens coming
to visit Cuba — not only through ICAP, but also through other
Cuba is updating its economic model, but every institution like ICAP
should also be undergoing a similar process. In that aspect, we are
looking for more efficiency for everything that we do — particularly in
terms of new communication technology.
Since December 17 and the release of the five, we have been
reorienting our priorities to focus on ending the economic the blockade
and continuing the battle of ideas to inform our population about all
the aspects of the changes.
One of the biggest existing dangers to Cuba and the Cuban Revolution
is the US funding of NGOs and counter-revolutionary groups to undermine
and spread false information about the Cuban revolution.
How significant do you consider this danger to be?
The US government has adopted a more positive rhetoric towards Cuba,
but they have also changed the old methods of undermining the Cuban
government for new ones.
This type of non-conventional warfare is also being partially
assisted by their negotiation tactics. Obama has also given priority to
lessening the blockade around the telecommunications sector — an area
where the US will be able to receive economic benefits and be able to
influence Cuban society.
We know that is a powerful weapon in their hands. But we are also
prepared to deal with that. Our people are highly literate and greatly
adaptable to new technologies.
This kind of warfare is not like the Bay of Pigs or the other
invasions from the past. This is a different type of ideological attack
and ideological warfare.
In the end, we believe that any type of regime change programs should
stop in order to truly enter a new epoch of Cuba-US relations and for
the US to recognise it has entered into a new era of relationship with
Latin America as a whole.
One of the best known campaigns around the world is “Yo si puede”
(“Yes We Can”). This campaign provides literacy skills to the poor in
nations around the world, including Indigenous communities in Australia.
Do you think it will be expanded even further with the end of the
Unfortunately, illiteracy is still a phenomenon that affects the
world's poor. Wherever illiteracy exists, Cuba will always offer its
method to solve that problem.
What is also evident is the absence of political will by some
governments to accept that Cuba is not looking for any ideological or
political influence in their society. We believe in is that literacy is a
basic human right — one that needs to be preserved.
It helps to empower the whole population and change the fundamental
relations between a person and society as a whole. Cuba is ready to
share its experience with as many countries as possible. So far, 27
countries have taken part in this program.
Could you tell us about the medical missions that Cuba has conducted more recently in Nepal and West Africa?
Cuba answered the call of those countries, and the World Health
Organisation, pledging to commit our highly qualified doctors and nurses
to help those nations.
It was a great challenge, particularly with regards to Ebola. We
asked our doctors to recognise the risk of death in the process of
facing the disease. They were ready to do that.
In fact, when one of our doctors contracted the disease, thousands of
others volunteered to take his place and travel to West Africa. Upon
his return for treatment in Cuba, that same doctor also asked the
Ministry of Health to allow him to return to his post once he was cured.
That is most inspiring.
We learned many lessons from that — most importantly, the value of
internationalism and the commitment to save lives, sometimes even at the
risk of your own.
All the Cuban people are educated in these values. We will always be
ready to help our sister nations from across the world to fight against
diseases like Ebola.