Cuba

Obama in Cuba: "I Have Come to Bury the Last Remnant of the Cold War"

President tells Cuban people the US will not impose any system on them; calls on Castro to "not fear" democracy.

|

Earlier today, President Obama

Raul Castro, Barack Obama in Havana
Youtube/NotimexTV

told the approximately 1,500 people assembled in Havana's el Gran Teatro, "I have come to bury the last remnant of the Cold War" and that his presence in the Cuban capital is meant "to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people."

Obama began his address, aired on state-run Cuban television, by noting that he and President Raul Castro have many philosophical differences which they have "discussed at length." He then spoke about both countries' history of colonization by Europeans, saying "Cuba, like the United States, was built in part by slaves brought here from Africa" and that both countries "welcomed immigrants who came a great distance to start new lives in the Americas."

After making some cursory references to shared cultural appreciation of things like music and baseball, Obama spoke about why he has asked Congress to lift the Cuban embargo, calling it "a burden on the Americans who want to work and do business or invest here in Cuba." The president added: 

What the United States was doing was not working. We have to have the courage to acknowledge that truth. A policy of isolation designed for the Cold War made little sense in the 21st century. The embargo was only hurting the Cuban people instead of helping them. And I've always believed in what Martin Luther King, Jr. called "the fierce urgency of now"—we should not fear change, we should embrace it.

Later, Obama promised the Cuban people, "We will not impose our political or economic system on you," but then quoted the words of 19th century Cuban poet Jose Marti, "Liberty is the right of every man to be honest, to think and to speak without hypocrisy."

Obama appeared to be trying to beat Raul Castro to the punch by decrying America's "economic inequality; the death penalty; racial discrimination; wars abroad" and "too much money in American politics." But, Obama then admonished Castro to "not fear the different voices of the Cuban people—and their capacity to speak, and assemble, and vote for their leaders."

Reuters reports that Obama met privately with about a dozen dissidents at the US embassy, including Berta Soler, one of the leaders of the Ladies in White, a dissident group made up of the wives of political prisoners. More than 50 members of the Ladies in White were arrested during a protest timed with Obama's landing in Cuba on Sunday, and yesterday, Castro indignantly denied Cuba held any political prisoners at all.

Following the speech, Obama attended an exhibition baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team.

According to BaseballReference.com, scores of Cuban national team players have defected to the US over the years, with many more Cuban baseball players also fleeing the socialist island nation to live and work in the United States.

NEXT: Brussels Terrorist Attack: Refuse to Be Afraid!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    1. “In a different day, in a different time, when I indulged in marijuana to the point that I should not have been behind the wheel of a car, I never found myself outside the lanes,” he said. “I never found myself driving less than the speed limit because I might get caught for it. I always obeyed all traffic signs. I had no idea where I was but I knew that if I kept on driving it would come to me and it came to me every time.”

      *facepalm* Libertarians will never be taken seriously…

      1. Mr. Johnson… predicted he’d wipe the floor with whatever outsider tries to infiltrate his party

        he’s the most popular guy on the short bus

        1. John McAfee for the name recognition. Hell, he’s better than GayJay in every way.

          1. Plus he has street cred. Did he get that tear tattooed under his eye yet?

      2. Come on, that’s pretty awesome.

        1. Its hilarious, yes… but its also why people think Libertarians are just a bunch of young punks that want to run around doing drugs and paying for sex. Gary Johnson directly reinforces the first stereotype while John McAfee reinforces the second (from what I’ve heard).

          1. With the exception of “young”, they’re both quickly approaching the “old” category.

            1. In about four more decades, they’ll be in the Michael Hihn category of Libertarian.

              1. Ha! Poor Mr. Hihn…

                1. Does anyone know how old Mr. Hihn actually is? I would like the answer expressed in cytotoxic units.

                  1. I would like the answer expressed in cytotoxic units.

                    He is 38.7 bombing campaigns and 14.6 amnesties old.

                  2. I’d put Mr. Hihn at approximately 5.846 cytotoxics.

                  3. My sources say he turned 75 in December…now he’ll probably sue me.

          2. He’s 24 QE’s and 2 beer summits from mission accomplished.

      3. *facepalm* Libertarians will never be taken seriously…

        So you’re saying that smoking weed is so massively unpopular that it is being made illegal in all the states where it is currently legal?

        Seems like the opposite is happening …

        And it didn’t seem to prevent Bill Clinton from being elected … twice.

        1. No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that it reinforces the stereotype that Libertarians are just a bunch of pot heads.

          1. I’m not at all concerned about that stereotype. The one that pisses me off is the stereotype that libertarians all want big business to have a monopoly on oxygen and make all the poor people suffocate.

            -jcr

        2. No, driving while intoxicated is massively unpopular.

        3. And it didn’t seem to prevent Bill Clinton from being elected … twice.

          After vehemently denying he ever inhaled.

        4. Why use Clinton as your go-to example when our current President is a choom-ganger?

          1. Not to mention the one before him was a coke fiend. And our current one as well.

      4. That’s exactly how stoned driving works, dude. You go on autopilot, follow all traffic laws because of paranoia, and you have a beautiful time.

        1. I know this from experience, haha.

        2. Meh, if you smoke often enough it’s just another drive to KFC

      5. I was hoping it would be behind the firewall at least.

    2. Who would that high profile name be to believe they could come in and take the Libertarian nomination?

      The irony is that he’s describing just his own path to the Libertarian frontrunner status.

  1. And?

    Who won?

    Tampa or Cuba?

    1. Friendship won, Rufus. Friendship.

      1. Depends on how many Cuban ball players they manage to sneak onto the team plane.

    2. Tampa, 4-1

  2. He needs to call on Castro to “not fear the Reaper”*. Those guys are old as dirt.

    *Not as a veiled assassination metaphor

    1. Alternately, “I have come not to praise Fidel but to bury him– seriously, he smells bad. They need to do something.”

        1. Free Enterprise, Epi?

          I give.You win. You win everything.

          1. Of course. Shatner? Playing himself? It’s too amazing to miss.

    2. +1 Blue ?yster Cult

      1. Nice! A true fan doesn’t leave out the umlaut.

        1. Blue Oerster Cult?

          Moertly crueue?

          Why did they use umlauts in the first place?

    3. And have you noticed how white everyone in Cuban leadership is? Compared to the 100% black baseball team.

      With Jackie Robinson’s widow in attendance, ESPN was raving about how Cuba never had segregated baseball, while not noticing that they do have segregated politics. Too bad Obama didn’t call out the ‘institutional racism’ in Cuba.

  3. C-SPAN ran the speech with the translator feed instead of the straight English feed for the first ten minutes; I thought to myself, “First saluting Che, then we get our president over-dubbed by communists,” it’s like CSPAN wants to wind up the wingnuts.

    1. Any wingnut would know that communists over-dubbing Obama would just be redundant.

      1. Good one!

  4. “I have come to bury the last remnant of the Cold War”

    So we’ve normalized relations with N Korea, too?

    1. “. . . in the Americas.”

    2. It’s a mistranslation. He said “cold whore.”

      1. No, no, you got it wrong too. He said “cold sore” and he meant that his herpes viral load is so low now that it’s actually undetectable.

    3. When he said “the last remnant of the Cold War”, I was hoping he was talking about Raul Castro. Seriously, that was a bit of a blunder, considering that the current president of Cuba was the Minister of Armed Forces during pretty much the entire Cold War.

  5. Interesting article, a year old, that my brother sent me.

    I don’t know anything about Spyridon Mitsotakis, whether he is a credible writer or not.

    1. the real problem is the “internal embargo”?the embargo that the government elite has imposed on the Cuban people to keep them from participating in the economies of the elite and the outside world.

      yeah, this is the thing i pointed out the other day. We can open up trade by ‘lifting barriers against US businesses’… but there’s no commensurate lifting of barriers of Cuban citizens. All the new US trade is going through and to Cuban govt-approved agencies. We’re just enriching cronies.

      will that be more likely to provoke change in Cuba? maybe. but pretending we’ve done some great thing for the cuban people by refusing to demand any political concessions from the Castros is pretty fucking lame.

      1. Meh, give it time. How long did it take China to show any signs of improvement? I know there was some idiot around here claiming that only The Party was benefiting from trade but I’ve been there and I know that’s bullshit.

        1. Removal of trade barriers is always good, regardless of what other barriers are in place.

          1. Removal of trade barriers is always good, regardless of what other barriers are in place.

            “always good, regardless” is the wrong way to put it.

            “Better”, but “better” is not always “good”. to paraphrase hank paulson.

      2. Look, we’re trying to not impose McDonald’s and WalMart on them.

    2. I bet Spyridon gets all kinds of pussy.

      1. Greek, so probably the other hole.

        1. I was referring to the fact that he probably lives with thirteen cats.

  6. “I Have Come to Bury the Last Remnant of the Cold War”

    from the guy who just got burned in a military standoff with Russia in the middle-east after each side spent the previous few years smuggling weapons to opposing sides, sparking a civil war that killed a few hundred thousand, and causing mass human migration threatening the integrity of Europe.

    but we let tourists visit cuba now. Epic Legacy bro.

    1. But hey, the Arab Spring is the best thing that ever happened. Our brave and wise leaders knew that inevitably democracy and freedom would sweep in to fill the power vacuums left by the toppling of secular dictators. Just doing what HAD to be done.

      1. the Arab Spring is the best thing that ever happened. Our brave and wise leaders knew that inevitably democracy and freedom would sweep in to fill the power vacuums left by the toppling of secular dictators

        thats sort of a mischaracterization, but your point is a fair one.

        the “Arab Spring” was not a creation of the West – tho the west helped prod it along and attempt to ‘shape’ the outcomes. Almost everyone assumed that the eras of the secular strongmen in Arab countries was going to end at some point. it was just remarkable how the all toppled at the same time. which is partly why the US et al was so unable to do much about that ‘outcome shaping’ stuff.

        It should certainly be remembered as Hillary Clinton’s biggest career-failure. (that, and the ‘Russian Reset’) But of course never will be.

        1. The Green Revolution in Iran could’ve turned out a lot differently had our leaders at the time supported the uprising by acknowledging the efforts of those who were being brutalized by the regime, instead they were ignored and now there is zero chance of another one.

          1. yes.

            We also fucked up in Egypt, flip flopping about who/what to support and consequently result in being trusted by no one. the whole point is to cultivate some allied constituency within countries. On that level, we’ve done atrociously.

        2. I think her breaking Libya might outrank the re-set on the failure scale, though it’s Herself, so many things from which to choose.

        3. I kind of think that’s a bit off, as well. Sure the West didn’t create the “Arab Spring”. But, it certainly helped it along. I think it’s entirely plausible that Gaddafi or Mubarak would well have weathered the turmoil if the West hadn’t moved to undermine them relative to the rebels. I suspect the matter wouldn’t have spread to Syria without Western support. As things stand the biggest winners turned out to be Muslim extremists.

          We’d have been better off minding our own business.

          1. it certainly helped it along

            sure. but in the order of significance, it didn’t even do that very well either.

            I also think people should avoid calling “The arab spring” an “it”. It isn’t one thing. Its a lumpy mess of 6 or so petit revolutions that have some superficial similarities.

            There’s a tendency among some libertarians to ascribe omniscience and omnipotence to US meddling, attributing every event around the world to the mechanization of the CIA and State department. I just think its silly and promotes oversimplification. Its also a common view around the world, fwiw – especially by Arabs.

            I think it’s entirely plausible that Gaddafi or Mubarak would well have weathered the turmoil if the West hadn’t moved to undermine them relative to the rebels.

            maybe. but not likely. both were going to go sooner or later – if not by coup, by succession struggle.

            I suspect the matter wouldn’t have spread to Syria without Western support.

            i think what happened in Syria was actually the consequence of the US thinking it *hadn’t done enough* in places like Libya… and thought that going whole-hog in arming revolutionaries would mean a greater degree of control. But i don’t think the US “started” the Syrian civil war. or that they were the only outside power exerting significant influence

        4. the “Arab Spring” was not a creation of the West –

          I didn’t say it was. The Arab Spring was a thing seemed to organically occur in one single place; Tunisia. Everywhere else it was apparently imported by regional third parties that were usually just terrorist groups. They milked west for all of it’s over-indulgent sympathy to get supplies and air support. Gaddafi would still be in power were it not for western support of terrorists. I happened to believe Gaddafi when he warned that the western powers were supporting Al Qeada and other terrorists. And as for Assad, I think it’s fair to say at this point that perhaps, just maybe, he wasn’t lying when he said it wasn’t peaceful protests that he was trying to suppress but an armed insurrection of Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and ISIS. Those rebels for their part, did an amazing job of pulling the wool over western eyes by appealing to the West’s ultimate weakness, a fatal over-abundance of empathy. And the US and Europe supported them anyways because they literally thought, or claimed to believe, that toppling Assad would be followed by flourishing democracy, freedom, prosperity and probably unicorn farts.

          As a foreign policy it was all so naive, juvenile and pointless that it’s hard not to punch a hole through my TV to hear Hilary bragging about all the wondrous goodness of their interventions in the Middle East.

            1. Yeah I actually mentioned Bahrain as another place it may have happened organically, in the first version of this post that vanished into the squirrel ether as soon as I hit the submit button. But yes, I think every country involved, the population had some very legitimate grievances against their governments and certainly a few good reasons to topple the fuckers. But what the liberal interventionists don’t understand is that often times, letting the ostensibly rightful rebellions get crushed under foot by totalitarian dictators actually is the moral choice, in addition to being the wisest available option on the table as a practical matter.

              1. I agree, while definitely pouring a libation or two in memory of Lafayette.

                1. Layfayette actually put his money where his mouth was. I don’t expect the likes of Cytotoxic to travel and fight in any of the lands where he demands that others go and fight.

  7. Maybe someone should tell NATO the cold war is over and stop advancing towards Russia. It does nothing for security and antagonizes needlessly

    1. Yeah, “why do countries within spitting distance of Russia feel so insecure”?? Don’t they know Russia is no threat to them?

      1. There is a lot you can do short of putting troops and missiles on their border and promising countries an attack on one is an attack on all. 16,000 thermonuclear weapons between US. I don’t need to see Turkey or a bunch of Nazis in the Azov battalion mess that up.

        1. “and promising countries an attack on one is an attack on all.”

          Yeah, I could see why that’s a horrible threat … if you want keep the option of invading your neighbors open.

        2. There is a lot you can do short of putting troops and missiles on their border and promising countries an attack on one is an attack on all.

          Didn’t we try that approach (stopping short) with Georgia and the Ukraine? How’d that work out?

      2. So, impossible for europe to defend itself, ever?

        1. No, not at all. I think the US should leave NATO. It should be a European security union.

          But i don’t think mr potato above has any valid point, re: acting like NATO is some kind of threat to the Soviets.

          1. sorry, Russians. Ha.

        2. Europe barely defends itself now, they’ve got the American (born and unborn) tax payers to finance that for them.

          1. To that point remains the main idea. A bunch of broke chumps don’t really have much say in the matter. We should cut our losses and adopt the foreign policy of that other dastardly enemy of Obama; George Washington’s isolationism.

  8. Defeating communism, not detente, is how you end the cold war.

    1. Seems like economic isolation is the one way we haven’t been able to defeat communism.

      1. But this time we’ll get ’em…

      2. When has Cuba been economically isolated? Among its trading partners are Europe are Canada.

        1. That explains the crappy cars.

          1. I suspect what really explains the old cars is that nobody has been able to afford a new one since the Castros took over.

      3. Seriously, even American libertarians have a superiority complex when it comes to foreign relations.

        “Cuba can trade with Canada, France, UK, Germany, Saudis, Spain, all of South America, but no, unless We The Americans are involved, there’s no economy whatsoever. Without us, it’s no wonder it’s an undeveloped shithole.”

        1. The US is kind of a big gaping hole in Cuba’s potential for trade.

          1. What, they satisfied all the demand in the rest of the world for cheap hotels, desperate hookers, socialist conferences, sugar and cigars, so now it’s time to conquer the US?

            Especially when their main exports (tobacco, rum, sugar) are gonna run smack into US subsidies and tariffs regardless. Now, if Castros want to go full Animal Farm and bring in the Mafia to create new casinos and brothels, so that it can be 1950 “Vegas before Vegas” Batista time again, proximity of US might help.

            1. You’re vastly underestimating the sheer heft of the United State’s GDP. If you add up GDP the countries you listed earlier, they just about equal the GDP of the US alone. And when the US is a mere 80 miles from your shores, that’s a big fucking deal. It doesn’t mean that the US is the axis mundi, but Cuba had been walled off from a chunk of cash.

          2. The US is kind of a big gaping hole in Cuba’s potential for trade.

            I suspect Cuba’s potential for trade is so minuscule that it is more than satisfied by the rest of the world.

            Would they be marginally better off if they could also trade with the US? Sure. But the idea that Cuba has these vast untapped economic reserves that the rest of the world just can’t handle without the US is pretty nuts.

  9. How did the Secret Service agents like the hookers? Better than the ones in Colombia?

    1. Cheaper at least.

    2. They were more AIDSie, which the SS likes.

      1. Gives them an excuse to double-glove, for that joyless pounding that they crave.

  10. See everyone? The US is just as bad as Cuba. Now everything is all better and we can get good cigars and decent left handed closers for baseball teams other than the Yankees.

    What a wonderful time to be alive.

    Thanks Obama!

  11. You’re burying anything with arms like that, bro.

    1. *not burying anything…

      1. I have to admit, the lack of an edit button does make for some hilarious moments.

        1. I’ve figured out why they don’t have one. When someone makes an incorrect statement that is later refuted, they can’t go back and edit their original statement.

          It’s a weird form of protecting speech (THAT’S THE EXCUSE AND I’M STICKING WITH IT).

          1. There is an easy fix for that. Put a 30 min time limit on editing and don’t allow editing of comments to which someone already replied.

    2. That was an embarrassing clip. Obama handled it well considering it went pretty poorly. But it’s clear he badly misjudged the other guy and the optics.

  12. “Obama began his address, aired on state-run Cuban television, by noting that he and President Raul Castro have many philosophical differences …”

    Unfortunately, conducting surveillance on one’s own citizens, and using the power of government to harass one’s political opponents, appear not to be among those “many philosophical differences.”

    1. *Philosophical* differences. Not *pragmatic* differences.

  13. OT: Submitted for your (dis)approval:

    http://www.concordmonitor.com/…..keene-home

    The FBI confiscated about 50 pieces of computer equipment Sunday from a household of Keene libertarians whose network is suspected to have been used to access a website hosting child pornography.

    Ian Freeman, who is one of the residents of 73 Leverett St., said in a phone interview Monday that he was awoken about 6:40 a.m. after agents of the FBI, state police and Keene police pounded on the front door of the duplex. He said they presented him a warrant stating that someone “purportedly went to a child porn website the FBI was running” using the connection there.

    1. “a child porn website the FBI was running”

      Nice.

    2. This is why I hate it when I accidentally click on ads. I never know what it’s actually linking to and this is my worst fear.

      You hear that Reason? Your stupid ads help the police state.

      Don’t tell me otherwise.

    3. I wonder who they pissed off.

      1. Hard to tell

        http://www.concordmonitor.com/…..crosshairs

        In the wake of Republican state Rep. Kyle Tasker’s arrest this month for allegedly attempting to lure a 14-year-old into a sexual encounter, Freeman made several posts online arguing that some 14-year-olds are mature enough to be entrusted with the responsibility of deciding for themselves to have sex.

        “I don’t think there should be some arbitrary, government-chosen age. I think each individual is different,” he said in a phone interview Monday.

        Freeman is a libertarian activist and co-host of a nationally syndicated radio show that has promoted the Free State Project, a political migration of libertarians that brought Freeman to New Hampshire.

          1. lol that was my immediate thought

  14. “Obama appeared to be trying to beat Raul Castro to the punch by decrying America’s ‘economic inequality; the death penalty; racial discrimination; wars abroad…'”

    You know, it’s a shame that Mr. Obama doesn’t hold a position that would have allowed him to put an end to those damn overseas wars!

    1. See, that’s how you stick it to blood-soaked totalitarians: by engaging in a public self-criticism session hosted by them.

      How naive is Welch looking now, hoping that Obama would have a “tear down this wall” speech.

  15. Hey guys, do you remember that time our president went over to Cuba and demanded that they release all of their political prisoners? And then the Cuban president immediately agreed to do it within 24 hours, then asked for a list of prisoners? And then our president didn’t have a list? Good times, man.

    1. That’s from a Woody Allan movie, right? Bananas?

  16. “I have come for another lavish taxpayer-funded vacation for me and my family.”

  17. Can we say ‘appeasement yet?

  18. What the United States was doing was not working. We have to have the courage to acknowledge that truth.

    Great quote. So Obama will end the War on Drugs next?

  19. A wannabe Marxist telling a seasoned Marxist that liberty is better than tyranny. How did they keep a straight face during this clown fest?

    Don’t you know BO beat off to pictures of Che the whole time he was down there begging Raul for war stories of the revolution.

    And of course no one calls him for any of his BS. Is the health system is so great, how come no one goes there for operations.

    If they have been doing it right for so long, how come people earning $20 per day or month or whatever try to sail here in wash tubs?

  20. The Castros know full well they need to fear democracy. If the Cuban people were heard they’d be tossed out on their asses, have their fortunes confiscated, and would have a fair to middling chance of ending up like Mussolini.

  21. CNN Video:

    What do we need to do to prevent terror attacks:
    Clinton: “We hve to toughen our surveillance, our interception of communication. We have to toughen– as you say– our soft targets with greater police presence, there’s no getting around that.”

    CNN Video, no link.

  22. “I have come to bury the Cold War, not to praise it.”

  23. Clinton: “We hve to toughen our surveillance, our interception of communication.

    Tim Cook’s headed to the slammer.

  24. The current DNC, and a lot of the RNC, seem to be proof the cold war is not over.

    1. Like every other war since 1950, we won, then gave up and surrendered.

  25. “Obama spoke about why he has asked Congress to lift the Cuban embargo, calling it ‘a burden on the Americans who want to work and do business or invest here in Cuba.'”

    Oh yeah, because we’re all just lining up to go work in Cuba…wait…64% labor participation rate? Maybe he’s on to something! Export our out-of-the-job workforce to Cuba! BRILLIANT!

    1. Ya know. I might support a work for college credit exchange program with Cuba. =D

  26. “I have come to bury the last remnant of the Cold War”

    True enough, for a change.

    He wants to bury US opposition to communist totalitarianism.

  27. Later, Obama promised the Cuban people, “We will not impose our political or economic system on you,”

    Obama leaves that to the Castros. He just wants to prop them up with access to the US market, and an ocean of US customers for slave state prostitution.

  28. Obama appeared to be trying to beat Raul Castro to the punch by decrying America’s “economic inequality; the death penalty; racial discrimination; wars abroad” and “too much money in American politics.”

    Don’t think you can throw down with Obama in a Hate America First contest. He’s #1!

  29. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.
    +_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+ http://www.net-jobs25.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.