On the Threshold of a Possibility

“President Obama's forthcoming visit to Cuba is a symbol of the qualitative development and of the speed of the course towards normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba”.

Puede leer aquí la versión en español de este artículo.

This text belongs to the file titled “Five Years after the visit of Barack Obama to Cuba.

Within a few weeks, five years will have passed after the visit of president Obama to Cuba. As it happens with many events, the pictures that circulated in the media from the very beginning of this visit, as well as the inner mechanisms of memory, have contributed to mythologize them with some sort of mark. Given these circumstances, Temas invited a group of scholars on inter-American relations from the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and particularly from Cuba, to reflect on their connotation. We are retrieving these observations because of their effectiveness to think critically and equably about some problems of today and about future scenarios.

*Published 21 March, 2016

President Obama's forthcoming visit to Cuba is a symbol of the qualitative development and of the speed of the course towards normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba. In that sense, it confirms the convictions and perspectives of very broad sectors in both countries who support the evolution and irreversibility of the process.

However, it could equally be more than just a symbol, since the presence in Cuba of the president of the United States, making contact with Cuban society and geography could actually be a genuine meeting, at the very highest political level, one which, to a large extent, will embody and represent concrete circumstances, the real possibilities and the uncommon challenges of this historical moment.

On the other hand, the meeting in Cuba (where the political capital which unleashed the world's passion during an important stage in history was created) between President Raúl Castro and President Barack Obama also represents the possibility of an encounter between two (or more) generations, two sociopolitical traditions, two views of the Americas, between past mistakes and future hopes. The meeting in Havana between Raúl Castro and Barack Obama will close the circle, which began on 17 December 2014, of the symbolic design of a détente between two countries and within each country, as the essence and methodology of the sociopolitical dynamics which were initiated on 17 December 2014.

Building this opportunity will ramp up, or will really begin, after this event. Although this signal will unleash a new and different moment, which will surely offer us benefits, it will also bring risks and sorrows. This new moment will move the country towards a confrontation of different ideas and of many people who have been adversaries, if not enemies (even bitter enemies); which is something essential if we are to set out on the road to development in all spheres, to a more balanced society and increasingly towards improved domestic coexistence.

Nevertheless, all of the above might turn out to be a mirage if the “harbinger of détente” should become simply opportunism by means of which each worldview, each adversary, each enemy would devote itself only to increasing the value of its “assets” in order, later on, to bury “political trust” and the opportunity to design political changes “from the perspective of evolution”.  Many fear that in some cases, there will be an attempt to set up, in a word, a kind of retrograde and elitist restoration of the old Republic under the cover of expressions like ”all humanism”, “the only good project”, “virtuous citizenship”.  As a result, the “assets” of détente and progress who have allowed us to come this far (be they Marxists, liberals, atheists, Christians, conservatives, progressives, etc.) will enter their most difficult and dangerous period but also the most exciting and creative because they will have to prove the triumph of détente as a proposal and a project, as an opportunity and as hope.

In the same way, the US president's visit to Cuba, in the current Latin American context, confirms the feasibility of two opposing futures for the hemisphere. The sociopolitical work in Latin America will bear fruit, with the involvement of the entire ideological spectrum, like the détente shown by Raul Castro and Barack Obama, and then the Hemisphere will mange to set off down the road towards a much-needed consensus. Otherwise processes like the peace negotiations between the Colombian government and Colombian guerrillas and the normalization of relations between Cuba and its neighbour to the north might not mean very much.

In my opinion, with the work done in Havana on the 20, 21 and 22 of this month, Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama almost culminate their efforts in this immense task. They have shown great human qualities by becoming the cornerstones for the construction of a new historical epoch which will only be possible with followers willing to convert their dreams in realities.

Traductora: Janet Duckworth

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