Wednesday, November 26, 2008

“The State Department tends to be less reasonable than the Pentagon”

That’s a perceptive Raul Castro, in an October interview he gave to, of all people, Sean Penn, where he spoke more expansively about relations with the United States than he has anywhere else.
Wilfredo Cancio of El Nuevo Herald discovered the interview, Penn’s account of which was published this week in The Nation magazine, and wrote about it here.
Penn’s article is here. He reports that the interview lasted seven hours.
Raul jokes about Cuba’s unprepared army during the Bay of Pigs invasion. He refers to the famous picture of Fidel Castro in front of a Russian tank, and says, “We did not yet know even how to put those tanks in reverse. So retreat was no option!”
Raul also speaks in more detail than I have seen anywhere else about the monthly talks between Cuban and American military officers at the Guantanamo naval base. The two militaries conduct joint emergency response exercises, he says, citing firefighting as an example.
Raul also said he would be willing to meet President Obama, and said a first meeting should be “in a neutral place.”


Anonymous said...

an interview with Sean Penn in The this life imitating The Onion?

Mambi_Watch said...

The mention of a "neutral place" for a meeting shows that perhaps negotiations have been given some serious thought by the Cuban government.

Hope Obama can come through on his commitment for "talks" with the Cuban government.

leftside said...

Yeah Mambi, but also take note of how long it took Raul to formulate a coherent answer to the question of meeting Obama. Raul was sending the signal that a meeting and eventual relations must be based on mutual respect of domestic affairs. The Cuban leadership is obviously unhappy with the tone of the rhetoric that came from Obama during the election. Any unilateral demands prior to negotiations would be detrimental. The fact that a majority (61%) in Miami-Dade came out against the embargo as a whole gives Obama a mighty open door to behave responsibly in the interests of both countries - putting neighorliness above nastiness.

Anonymous said...

are you talking about the same majority that just elected in Miami the two Congressmen and one Congresswoman that are opposed to ending the embargo? The poll you are quoting was not 61% and also was made by the Cuban Study group, an entity which has a vested interest in ending the embargo. How can one extrapolate the opinion of the Cuban population in Miami (which some of you call the Miami Mafia,BTW ) from 850 persons interviewed for that poll?