6 August 2009 Edition
Interview: Cuban Ambassador to Ireland, Noel Carillo
Cuba looks to the future
‘Solidarity not charity’ is how the Cuban Ambassador Noel Carillo described the motivation behind the successful function for Cuba held in Dublin’s Teachers’ Club on 25 July 2009.
Artist Robert Ballagh chaired the evening which featured an enthralling re-enactment of the Great Escape by republican prisoners from the H-Blocks of Long Kesh in 1983. The account was given by leading participants in the escape – Bobby Storey, Gerry Kelly and Bik McFarlane.The large crowd on the night listened attentively and with much enjoyment.
The Cuban Ambassador made some interesting observations about Cuba in his intervention so An Phoblacht decided to invite him to expand on his comments.
Speaking to the paper this week Noel Carillo said:
“It was a great coincidence that the Sinn Féin solidarity meeting with Cuba was held on 25 July, just on the eve of the Cuban National Day. For Cubans, 26 July has an important significance. It is Rebellion Day, the day we mark the beginning of our last and final struggle for real independence.”
“This year the anniversary of the assault against Moncada Barracks during Batista’s dictatorship in 1953 had an important significance. Our president Raul Castro announced the beginning of discussions and an analysis at the Communist Party and the National Assembly to adjust the strategy to confront the present economic difficulties that have emerged as the result of the international economic crisis.
“At the same time we are involved in a process to organise in detail the model of economic development that our socialist society will use in the near future.”
“Definitely socialism is the choice of the Cuban people, but it has to be built in a realistic and reasonable way, in accordance with our own concrete conditions and possibilities. The historic generation of combatants of the Cuban Revolution is still with us, and it is the Cuban people’s desire to prepare with them the basis of Cuban socialism for the coming future”.
“Cuba has an open economy, so we depend very much on foreign trade for our development, and because of that, the world economic recession is affecting us very much. Just to give you an example, our main export product, nickel, has seen its price drop by half in just one year.
“Added to this are the effects of the US blockade. During the first months of the new US administration we have seen a continuity of their blockade policy, like for example the punishment (through fines) for foreign companies that supply medical equipment to Cuba.
“Even with the very well publicised ‘New Measures On Cuba’ announced by the Obama administration, like for example the restoration of travelling rights to the Cubans living in the US, we haven’t seen for the moment any serious attempt at dismantling the blockade. Also some of those supposed elimination restrictions have not yet been implemented.
“So we know that our future has to be built through our own efforts. We know that we must keep our principles as a matter of keeping our own independence”.
“In these circumstances, we do really appreciate the solidarity given by friends all over the world, and Sinn Féin’s solidarity function for Cuba was one clear example of the support that Cuba has among progressive people.
“At the function, Sinn Féin collected funds that allow for the transportation by the Ireland-Cuba Medical Association of an important shipment of medical equipment to Cuba. We see this as an example of concrete solidarity, which is very different from charity.
Sinn Féin solidarity with Cuba is based on political principles and we look forward to maintaining and strengthening those bonds in the future”.