The 17th of December 2014 can undoubtedly be described as a historic day. The United States of America and Cuba have put an end to their disagreement after more than 5 decades of confrontation. The exchange of prisoners marks the thaw in Cuban-American relations and the start of the end of the longest embargo in contemporary history. The United States has ascertained that its ignorance of and punishment to the neighbouring Cuba has transcended to the whole region and that such measures have proved inefficient in the face of the endurance of the Cuban population and authorities. President Obama himself has termed the embargo as a political failure. The embargo has left in Cuba a trail of restrictions and suffering which have worn out the island’s face and worsened its chances for social and economic development.
Not only Americans and Cubans have reasons to celebrate, but also all of us who have defended dialogue and agreement as a way of resolving conflicts. In this sense, the discreet and efficient work of the Holy See, the Pope Francis and the Cardinal Jaime Ortega deserves our full admiration and acknowledgement. Today, all of us who stood for direct dialogue and understood that the European Union’s common position was a damaging anachronism and the embargo a double-edged weapon both for Cubans and Americans, can rejoice in this event. The vision of two neighbouring States living in peace and cooperation starts to gain shape. Presidents Obama and Castro have taken the international community by surprise in progressing faster than anticipated and beyond the imaginable only a few months back.
Due to the historic ties between Spain and Europe and Cuba, we must be satisfied and pleased and, once and for all and in an orderly way, bury the common position, which has been a corpse for some years now. Looking through the rear-view mirror of history, we can ascertain that the years of the José María Aznar administration and its policy towards Cuba have meant an enormous failure for Spain, since they amounted to a break in Spanish-Cuban relationships that did not even occur in the long and dark period of the Franco regime. Fortunately, the current minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, García-Margallo, visited the island a few weeks ago to check the situation on the spot.
Spain, regardless of the well-worn “Spain brand”, must follow up this process and consider it a chance to be present but not compete in the island, and an opportunity to reinvigorate and refresh our political, cultural and economic ties. The statements of Presidents Castro and Obama fill me with satisfaction because, with all modesty but also with strong conviction, I feel among those who have contributed to the rapprochement of both countries and the fostering of the policy of dialogue and agreement.