As victims of the half-century American blockade and an even longer history of abhorrent colonialism, Cuba is an internationally renown symbol of defiance. Cuba makes this symbology highly apparent in their official foreign relations website. With their struggle against the United States firmly ingrained into their history and fully extended into current affairs, it is unsurprising that a strong portion of Cuba’s foreign relations website outlines the detriments of American foreign policy.
Contrasting this, they feature a number of statements, articles and reports illustrating their own foreign policy initiatives and the scintillating effect it has on the rest of the world. To complete this glossy profile of Cuba, they highlight the international support for general Cuban solidarity and facilitate communication between different pro-Cuba international activists.
The dichotomy of Cuba as a righteous underdog looking out for the common good of the world and the United States as the hypocritical global hegemon is the crux of Cuba’s general foreign policy. Cuba’s Foreign Relations website effectively expresses their state foreign policy. The major issues consuming the Cuban Foreign relations Ministry are illustrated in their 20 February 2010 press statement regarding the recent Cuba-United States discussions.
In these talks the Cuban Delegation “…reiterated the essential issues to be addressed in an eventual dialogue process, aimed at improving relations: the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade; the exclusion of Cuba from the spurious list of terrorist countries; abrogation of the Cuban Adjustment Act and the “wet-foot/dry-foot policy”; compensation for economic and human damages; the return of the territory occupied by the Guantanamo naval base; the end of anti-Cuba radio and television aggression from the United States, and an end to the financing of internal subversion. In addition, the statement expresses that the Cuban delegation seeks the “…liberation of the five Cuban anti-terrorists” who are currently imprisoned in the United States. This laborious list of conditions set by Cuba for the United States is a strong indication of how significant a role the United States plays for the Cuban foreign relations ministry. Along with this comprehensive list, the United States is mentioned in ten out of eighteen press statements from the previous two years.
This frequency again indicates how dominant the United States really is within Cuban foreign affairs. As mentioned above, one of the political issues Cuba is combating is the American blockade on Cuba. Enacted partially in October 1960 and elevated to a full embargo in February 1962, the blockade prevents Americans from fully commercially, economically and financially interacting with Cuba.
Initially established in response of the nationalization of American property holdings in Cuba and maintained throughout the Cold War because of Cuba’s close association with The Soviet Union, the embargo continues today as President Obama renewed it for another year on 2 September 2010. The major source of the continuing hostility in the United States towards Cuba in the post-Cold War era is Cuba’s immutable political system of state communism.
In an address scheduled for 26 October 2010 to the United Nations General Assembly, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez plans on pressuring the United States again – with the support of the 187 states who have voted in favour of lifting the blockade – to once and for all end the embargo. Cuba’s call to end the embargo is made very apparent as it permeates through a multitude of pages on their website. In accord with their aim of a fairer and just world, they also present material referring to their participation in multilateral affairs.
As a counter to the hegemonic power of the United States, their website loudly states Cuba’s activity in both the United Nations Disarmament and International Security Committee and the Special Political and Colonization Committee, their countless addresses for organizational reform to the Security Council and their successful election to the Vice Presidency of the United Nations Human Rights Council. They see the United Nations and other multilateral cooperation as important tools to help correct the distribution of power throughout the world.
The presentation of this information is indicative of how Cuba perceives itself in the global framework. It is in this broader context of multilateralism finds many allies, one of its staunchest being Venezuela. Emulating Cuba’s social systems, early in Hugo Chavez’ presidency Venezuela reached out to Cuba to initiate a bilateral agreement. Their two economies have intertwined substantially as they have bilateral “…contracts in transportation, communication, finance, agriculture, mining, industry, tourism, and energy sectors. Continuing with multilateralism, the website announces talks between Cuba and the European Union, China, Canada and plethora of others. Despite the United States’ position, the rest of the world have developed important economic and even political relationships with Cuba. Fully aware of Cuba’s international image, the Cuban Foreign Relations Ministry utilizes their website as an effective instrument in rallying global support for their struggle against the United States’ embargo, the liberation of the ‘Cuban Five’, general Cuban solidarity and communism.
They provide excellent material for activists around the world to strengthen their beliefs. On their home page they feature a comprehensive report on the consequences of the American embargo, articles on the ‘Cuban Five’, biographies of national heroes: Jose Marti, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, and snippets of material identifying Cuba’s role in the global fight on terrorism and their commitment to human rights. Along with operating as a general pro-Cuba archive, they also facilitate interactions between activists worldwide, creating a centralized meeting place for the international movement.
The website links political activist groups from around the world by listing events, protests, comments made by persons of eminence and other pro-Cuba activity. To further their website’s ability to intersect all pro-Cuba activism, there is a section entitled “Debates On Line” which – as the title explains – is a forum on a variety of issues involving Cuba. With so much emphasis on the global fight for Cuban solidarity within their website, coupled with the website’s participatory functions, their intended readership are individuals involved in pro-Cuba activism.
Also, as a result of the propagation of pro-Cuba beliefs and the denunciation of American foreign policy, the website also functions as a persuasive source aiming to influence the opinion of Cuba’s opponents. As an occasional member of both the Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) and Free The Cuban Five Vancouver, Cuba’s Foreign Relations website maintains relevancy for me in two ways: the substantial amount of information regarding Cuban foreign policy and the listing of Cuban olidarity movements from all corners of the Earth. As the majority of mainstream media outlets are located in the very same country that is blockading Cuba, mainstream news content regarding Cuba must be consumed with a highly critical mind. As Cuba’s Foreign Relations website directly relays the Cuban government’s perspective on international issues, it functions as a counterpunch to the mainstream news (although with a strong bias of its own).
As well, through the ‘Regional Political Divisions’ header, work completed by MAWO and Free The Cuban Five Vancouver has been listed. Their work, in conjunction with Pastors For Peace, assisted in the launch of the journey of a caravan from Vancouver –collecting humanitarian aid on the way – to Cuba. To receive acknowledgement for such a minor form activism from Cuba, greatly inspires the local Cuban solidarity movement in Vancouver to intensify and continue their dissent. This is the success of the Foreign Relations website.
Not unlike any other states’ foreign affairs website, Cuba’s exhibits a certain slant in the portrayal of itself and of the international community. The bias within the website’s depiction of international affairs is less about what is included, rather it is found in the websites’ omissions. For example, under the section of explaining the state of the economy, the Cuban Foreign Relations Ministry has produced nine articles in 2010. Of these nine articles not a single one describes the economic realities Cuba actually faces.
In fact, the entire section is comprised of a few articles on the importance of tourism, another couple on the need to attain food security and another faulting the United States’ embargo for their poor iron and steel industries failing to delineate the true economic state and the quality of life of its citizens. Cuba currently is undergoing some of the most drastic reforms it has ever experienced, yet their Foreign Relations website remains silent. In the month of August 2010, President Raul Castro announced a handful of changes to open up the state’s economy along with the laying off 500 000 government workers.
In a country of just over eleven million people (and a labour force obviously much smaller), axing that many people has astronomical consequences for the economy. Their government does not view it necessary to make a statement regarding such changes on their foreign relations website’s description of the economy. The website also slants the portrayal of international affairs by only publishing incriminating evidence of the United States as opposed to a more balanced perspective. Exemplifying this is the complete non-existence of statements casting the United States in a positive light over the past two years.
The website omits a number of encouraging multilateral affairs involving the United States and Cuba, one of them being the negotiations between Mexico, United States and Cuba in efforts to sign a tripartite agreement on the research and conservation of the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean. For a population of just over eleven million, Cuba extends itself into a large number of international affairs. Their Foreign Relations website successfully encompasses the wide scope of Cuba’s foreign policy, only losing a minor sense of depth with the occasional and intentional above mentioned omissions.
Employing a variety of means, their website effectively outlines the most pressing issues, their multilateral affairs, international pro-Cuban support and the multitude of Cuban goodwill missions. Their website also achieves to express the significance of the United States within Cuba’s own Foreign Relations Ministry by the constant comparisons between the two states’ policies. Within this comprehensive framework, Cuba’s Foreign Relations website effectively communicates their foreign policy. Bibiography Official Website of the Foreign Affairs of Cuba http://www. cubaminrex. cu/english/index. htm
United States Whitehouse Presidential Memoranda. 2010. Continuation of Authorities Under the Trading With the Enemy Act. Retrieved from: http://www. whitehouse. gov/the-press-office/2010/09/02/presidential-memorandum-continuation-authorities-under-trading-with-enem Franks, J. (2010, September 25). Cuba Plans Capitalist Reforms. www. nationalpost. com http://www. nationalpost. com/news/world/Cuba+Plans+Capitalist+Reforms/3577573/story. html Kennedy, S. (2010, September 28). Marine Scientists Expect To Reach Pact. www. Bradenton. com http://www. bradenton. com/2010/09/28/2609662/marine-scientists-expect-to-reach. html