Chargè d’Affaires proclaims
It has been well over four decades now since Liberia and Cuba established diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level in 1974, and this relation has remained solid regardless of pressure from sanctions imposed by the United States since the 1960s.
As Cuba prepares to celebrate Liberia-Cuba relations today, Chargé d’Affaires Yordenis Despaigne Vera says relations between the two countries remain strong as both are mutually benefiting.
Commenting on Liberian-Cuban relations in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer on April 18, 2018 Mr. Vera recalled that Liberia has been proactive in advocating for the lifting of U.S. imposed economic blockade on Cuba. He observed that the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries was on April 17, 1974. April 17 is also commemorated in Cuba each year as the day the Cuban Revolution, led by Fidel Castro, crushed the U.S. backed invasion of the Bay of Pigs.
Background and History
The United States in the early 1960s imposed an economic blockade on Cuba following Fidel Castro’s declaration of Cuba as a socialist state and proclaimed the socialist character of its revolution, following the overthrow of the Fulgencio Batista regime in 1959. During Batista’s rule American corporations and wealthy individuals owned almost half of Cuba’s sugar plantations and the majority of its cattle ranches, mines and utilities. Batista did little to restrict their operations.
Many private U.S. companies had extensive interest in Cuba, such as Standard Oil, which struck a deal with Batista for thousands of acres to drill and explore for oil, etc. Following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the deal with Standard Oil and other big businesses were scrapped by the new government led by Fidel Castro.
In the ensuing developments, many wealthy and influential Cubans fled to the United States. Together with assistance from the United States’ government, they plotted the overthrow of the Cuban government. They launched an invasion of the country in 1961. The invasion was launched at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961. The invasion was, however, botched and within a short while afterwards, the invading forces were routed while many fled to Florida from whence they had come.
The Obama administration made some progress in lifting parts of the sanction, and this led to exchanges of ambassadors, a visit to Cuba by President Obama and his wife, establishment of communications companies and landing of U.S. commercial aircraft in Havana.
However, upon assuming the U.S. presidency in 2017, President Donald Trump renewed the sanctions and declared that until Cuba complies with conditions set for lifting the sanctions they were going to remain in force.
It can be recalled that in 2017 during the celebration of Cuban National Day, former Foreign Minister Marjon Kamara said Cuba was more helpful to the world than ever before, and that imposing sanctions on it not only affected that country alone but other countries that are benefiting from its goodwill gestures.
Mr. Vera also indicated that relations were renewed a few years ago after the Liberian Civil War. When Ebola struck, Cuba dispatched 53 doctors to help tackle the epidemic that hit Liberia.
He said the Cuban government, through its Embassy near Monrovia, is still waiting on the George Weah administration to advance proposals on how both countries can mutually benefit from the relationship, noting that Cuba is willing to assist Liberia but can only do so when the government does formally request.
The celebration of the 44th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and Liberia also coincides with the celebration of Cuba’s 57th Revolutionary Proclamation by its leader, Fidel Castro in 1961.
Chargé d’Affaires Vera refers to the events as a historical moment.
For Liberia-Cuba relations, he said it reawakens the spirit of friendship between peoples of the two countries while the 57th Revolutionary proclamation will see the ushering in of a new National Assembly for Cuba, which elects the island-country’s new president, first and second Vice Presidents, and other officials of the Council of State.
The expected transition to take place, Mr. Vera said, will bring on board a younger generation at the level of the presidency and National Assembly that will continue the legacy of Cuban Revolutionary Leader, Fidel Castro.
Regarding the skepticism United States has with Cuba’s governance system, Vera said the U.S. has nothing to do with the politics of Cuba just as Cuba has nothing to do with that of the U.S., noting that while the Cuban government has embarked on reforms, “We cannot undertake reforms simply for the satisfaction of the U.S. government.”