Senior Cuban diplomat meets the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cuba
Campaign News | Thursday, 16 February 2023
On Wednesday 1 February Dr José Ramon Cabañas addressed a packed meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Cuba, chaired by Grahame Morris MP, on the latest in Cuba-US relations. Cabañas is one of Cuba’s most senior diplomats and became the first Cuban ambassador to the US for 50 years in 2016 following the rapprochement between the two countries under Raul Castro and Barack Obama.
12 MPs and members of the House of Lords attended to hear first hand his experiences and his thoughts on the current state of affairs. Detailing the process that led to the historic agreement between the two governments, Dr Cabañas emphasised the Cuban’s long-held demand for ‘respect and reciprocity’ in their dealings with the US - something which eroded entirely under the presidency of Donald Trump.
Dr Cabañas spoke about the difficulties Cuba faced, confronting both an enhanced blockade and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the lack of significant positive movement from the Biden administration since January 2021. However he noted that Cuba remains ready to meet at the table, with respect and reciprocity non-negotiable, and offered some hope that there are those in the United States that want to see change.
Richard Burgon MP asked about the impact that the recent changes in the political landscape in Latin America might have on Cuba and its relationship with its neighbour to the north and John McDonnell MP followed up asking for Dr Cabañas’ thoughts on the common trading currency being discussed by the governments of Brazil and Argentina. Dr Cabañas expressed hope that the situation in Latin America could favour Cuba, and said that any option beyond the US dollar, which dominates international financial markets would be positive. Both developments, he said, could give Cuba a “chance to breathe” while living under blockade.
Baron Tony Woodley, former Joint General Secretary of Unite the Union and Labour Peer, offered condolences to the Cuban people following the passing of a number of people associated with the fight to free the Miami Five. Dr Cabañas thanked Baron Woodley for his words and extended thanks to all those in the room, from MP’s to the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, who campaigned tirelessly over the years to free the Five and who helped “make the impossible, possible.”