Raul Castro's speech on normalizing diplomatic relations with the US

Raul Castro

"We must learn the art of living, in a civilized manner, with our differences."

Since my election as President of the Councils of State and Ministers, I have expressed on many occasions, our willingness to support respectful dialogue with the government of the United States, based on sovereign equality, to discuss different topics reciprocally without prejudice to national independence and self-determination of our people.

This is a position that was expressed to the Government of the United States, public and private, by comrade Fidel at different times in our long struggle, with the approach of discussing and resolving differences through negotiations without giving up any of our principles.

The heroic Cuban people

The heroic Cuban people have demonstrated against great dangers, attacks, hardships and sacrifices, that they are and will be true to our ideals of independence and social justice. Closely united in these 56 years of Revolution, we have kept deep loyalty to those who fell defending these principles since the beginning of our wars of independence in 1868.

Now, despite the difficulties, we are updating our economic model to build a prosperous and sustainable socialism.

As a result of a dialogue at the highest level, including a telephone conversation I had yesterday with President Barack Obama, progress has been made in addressing some issues of interest to both nations.

As Fidel promised

As Fidel promised, in June 2001, when he said, they will return!, Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio arrived in our country today, .

The sheer joy of their families and all our people, who mobilized tirelessly to that end, extends between the hundreds of committees and groups of solidarity; governments, parliaments, organizations, institutions and personalities that during these 16 years and made strenuous efforts demanded for their release.  All of them express our deepest gratitude and commitment.

Obama deserves respect

This decision by President Obama deserves the respect and recognition of our people.

I want to thank and acknowledge the support of the Vatican, and especially, the Pope Francis, in the improvement of relations between Cuba and the United States. Similarly, I thank the Government of Canada for the facilities created for the realization of high-level dialogue between the two countries.

In turn, we decided to release and send to the United States  a Cuban spy who served in that nation.

Moreover, based on humanitarian grounds, today US citizen Alan Gross was also returned to his country

Unilaterally, as is our practice and with strict adherence to our legal system, criminal inmates have received benefits, including the release of persons for whom the Government of the United States had shown interest.

We agree to the restoration of diplomatic relations

Likewise, we agree to the restoration of diplomatic relations.

This does not mean that the main issue is resolved. The economic, commercial and financial blockade which has caused enormous human and economic damage to our country must cease.

Although sanctions have been converted into law, the President of the United States can modify its application using his executive powers.

We propose to the Government of the United States to take mutual steps to improve bilateral climate and to move towards normalization of ties between our countries, based on the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter.

Cuba’s willingness to cooperate

Cuba reiterates its willingness to sustain cooperation in multilateral bodies such as the United Nations.

Recognizing that we have deep differences, mainly on national sovereignty, democracy, human rights and foreign policy, I reaffirm our willingness to discuss all these issues.

I urge the Government of the United States to remove obstacles that prevent or restrict the links between our peoples, families and citizens of both countries, in particular those relating to travel, direct mail and telecommunications.

Progress in sustained exchanges show that it is possible to find solutions to many problems.

As we have said, we must learn the art of living, in a civilized manner, with our differences.

On these important issues we will speak later.

Thank you very much.

Source: Google translation of Raul’s address on the release of the Cuban Five from JSC: Jamaicans in Solidarity with Cuba