Dilma visits Cuba

News from Cuba | Wednesday, 1 February 2012

from La Alborada.net

Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff is in Cuba, from where she will go onto Haiti. The visit seems normal and even welcome by the countries of the Americas, all of which maintain normal ties with Cuba except one that insists on maintaining its blockade against the island. As it happens, Brazil continues to expand its presence in the southern nations, a course of events that necessarily reduces the historical influence of the US in the area. The Wall Street headlined an article on the trip this way: "Brazil's President Flexes Clout in Cuba Trip."

Dilma met with her counterpart Raul Castro --photos of the event show a friendly and animated conversation- - and also with former president Fidel Castro; "very proudly," she said. The Brazilian leader, who took office barely over a year ago and may well be re-elected for a second term, praised the formation of the CELAC, which includes all Latin American and Caribbean states except the US and Canada. None of this bodes well for Washington's policy on Cuba, nor, for that matter, for US attempts to maintain hegemony over the region.

At her news conference, the first question was about human rights. She answered that "We'll start by talking about human rights in the United States, concerning a base here, called Guantanamo. Let's talk about human rights everywhere." She also noted her opposition to the blockade.

The meetings in Havana were not just about atmospherics or politics. The two presidents reviewed progress at the new mega-port at Mariel, which is being constructed with Brazilian financing and engineering.

That project would free Havana harbor from its duties as a major

commercial port, and facilitate the docking of today's large-scale

freighters at a brand-new commercial hub for the region. Brazil is also involved in rebuilding Cuba's sugar sector, and has agreed to help finance food purchases-- a central concern of the Cuban government-- as well as Cuba's acquisition of machinery and equipment in order to develop its own agricultural production. Dilma proposed a "strategic and lasting partnership" to develop Cuba's economy.

Cuba awaits the result of prospecting for oil off its northern coast. If commercial quantities are found, its current financial difficulties would diminish significantly, aided by current changes in its domestic economy. Foreign relations with Cuba have been described as strategic by China and Russia, and now Brazil. Concerning US the blockade, Cuba counts on the support of all of the other nations of the continent.

Yet, the US persists in making the blockade work, notwithstanding further that the latter has become a permanent irritant in its relations throughout the region. Washington's policy makers are surely aware of the unlikelihood of the success of its obsession. In 2014, the CELAC is expected to hold its third conference, in Cuba. The heads of state of all of Latin America and the Caribbean will be present in Havana, and it will be a historical occasion. The US is not invited to attend.

Will the US accept the need for a new approach, or will it step up its efforts to overthrow the Cuban government? We would not raise the question if we did not have our doubts on the matter.

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