On Wednesday, April 22, while Machetera was admiring new developments in pediatric dentistry (she herself was a victim of the dark ages of the trade), USA Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was appearing before Congress to discuss foreign policy. On Venezuela, she repeated the line that her boss tossed out at his limited press conference in Port of Spain – that dangerous handshake between Chávez and Obama? You know that rascal Chávez, so good with the cameras!
On Cuba, she uttered something truly amazing, and the major media rushed to repeat and amplify it, like a hall of mirrors:
President [Obama]’s actions did draw a response from Raúl Castro which was then contradicted today by Fidel Castro saying that my brother didn’t really mean that we would talk about political prisoners and human rights so I think you could see there’s beginning to be a debate, I mean, this is a regime that is ending.
Whoa Nellie. I mean Hillary. That’s some Spanish translation you’ve got going there. Check it again with your sister-in-law.
What did Raúl actually say? Since nobody has produced an English transcript of Raúl’s extemporaneous speech at the ALBA Summit, Machetera will oblige. Here’s an excerpt:
We’ve said to the North American government, both privately and publicly, that we’re ready whenever they are, to discuss everything: human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners, everything, everything, everything that they might want to discuss, but on equal terms, without the slightest infringement of our sovereignty and without the least violation of the Cuban people’s right to self-determination.
The other day, in Brasilia, after a meeting with President Lula, a journalist with an insolent and provocative attitude asked me in an interview: ‘How many dissidents have you [Cubans] killed?’ He didn’t even hear himself, and he began to tremble when I answered him, in the way that I know how to answer. He trembled! And I said to him, “Yes, those dissidents, who are on the United States payroll, go and look at the latest budget approved by Congress, the part that has to do with the $57 million dollars to finance all those ‘patriotic’ dissidents, the ‘independent journalists,’ and so on. And why do they not release our five Heroes, young heroic men who never inflicted any harm on the United States, nor sought information against the United States, but rather, against the terrorists that attacked and have been attacking, to a greater or lesser degree, my country for nearly 50 years?”
From that, this approach came forth, and I reiterate it here today: If they want these supposed “political prisoners” released, among whom there are a number of confessed terrorists, Guatemalans and Salvadorans, tried and convicted in Cuba, even facing the death penalty – that still exists but we haven’t applied for some time – they were commuted to a life sentence. Let our prisoners go and we’ll send these there – with their families and whoever they want – those so-called dissidents and patriots.
Now, what did Fidel say?
There is no doubt that the President [Obama] misinterpreted Raúl’s statements.
Wait, sounds like a rebuke of Obama, not Raúl.
When the President of Cuba said he was ready to discuss any topic with the US President, he meant he was not afraid of addressing any issue.
That would be the part where Raúl said “everything, everything, everything.”
That shows his courage and confidence on the principles of the Revolution. No one should feel astonished that Raúl spoke about pardoning those who were convicted in March, 2003, and about sending them all to the United States, should that country be willing to release the Five Cuban Anti-Terrorism Heroes. The convicts, as was already the case with the Bay of Pigs’ mercenaries, are at the service of a foreign power that threatens and blockades our homeland.
Machetera worries, she really does, if the U.S. Secretary of State really has such poor translation services at her disposal that she believes Fidel’s statement was a contradiction of Raúl’s, or as it is being spun – one Castro wanting rapprochement with the United States, and the other trying to shut it down; the mighty conflicted Cuban empire! On the other hand, she worries more that Mrs. Clinton actually knew very well what was said and chose such a stunningly inept interpretation anyway. Either way, it doesn’t bode well for future discussions.