Washington.- Cuba’s ambassador to the United States, José Ramón Cabañas, said that in the past two years, both countries have achieved unprecedented levels of negotiations with considerable progress, although serious obstacles still remain.
In a speech delivered last night to celebrate Cuba’s National Day, the diplomat recalled that between January 2015 and the current month both sides reached 22 memorandums of understanding covering areas such as health, environmental protection and law enforcement.
‘Never before in our common history both nations had negotiated for two consecutive years on such a diversity of issues,’ Cabañas said.
‘Thanks to these commitments and other changes, 284 000 Americans and 329 000 Cuban Americans traveled to the island in 2016, since September on direct flights, with lower fares and greater predictability in service,’ he said.
At the same time, the Ambassador recalled that in March 2016 former President, Barack Obama, made a trip to Havana with 39 Republican and Democratic congressmen, the largest delegation of the Legislative Power that any country visited in many years.
A total of 25 official delegations of the island – six of them of high-level – visited Washington, and 47 US official groups – 13 of high level – were in the Cuban capital.
Travels to the Caribbean country of 229 US delegations of businessmen, and the conclusion of 23 trade agreements, were also recorded.
‘Just a few days ago, authorities in both countries signed a new immigration agreement that will allow the movement of people between the two nations in an orderly, legal and safe way,’ the diplomat said.
According to Ambassador Cabañas, the idea that one of the parties has made unilateral concessions to enter this new stage of bilateral relations has no sense.
‘The owners of the hate business have insisted for 58 years on destroying attempts to normalize these links, but that only generates income for a few and does not create jobs, nor does it produce economic growth for the majority,’ he stressed.
‘We have all seen that important companies and business associations have expressed an interest in improving bilateral relations and regulating trade under the same rules applied to other countries. This task is still pending,’ he said.
Cabañas considered it significant that 75 percent of US citizens want an increase of links with Cuba and also the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on the island more than half a century ago.
He ended his speech with a quote from the speech given by Cuban President Raúl Castro at the Fifth Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
During this meeting, held this week in the Dominican Republic, the president expressed the will of the island to continue negotiating other pending bilateral issues with the northern nation, based on equality, reciprocity and respect for sovereignty and independence of his country. (PL)
Radio Cadena Agramonte, January 27, 2017