Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this Monday reaffirmed Russia’s support for Cuba, its strategic ally, at the beginning of his meeting with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodríguez.
“In 2019, on the 60th anniversary of the victory of the Cuban Revolution, we assure you that we will continue to support our strategic ally, Cuba,” said the head of Russian diplomacy.
He added that Russia follows with “great attention and empathy the profound changes” that are taking place on the island and highlighted the progress made by Cuba in various areas such as in the socio-economic and cultural spheres despite the many years of blockade imposed by the United States.
Lavrov said that in the course of these talks a “political consultation plan” will be signed for the 2020-2022 three-year period, making it possible to give more dynamism to bilateral contacts and to the progress of joint projects.
The Cuban foreign minister in turn described the dialogue with Moscow as “always anticipated and productive,” and the state of bilateral relations as “excellent,” including joint projects and the “promising potential” of further developing ties.
He recalled that both countries have a “very high level” political dialogue, with growing economic projects of mutual interest “that are going well.”
Rodríguez indicated that the meeting with Lavrov takes place “in the midst of a convulsive international situation, of growing threats to regional peace and security, which also affect the Latin American and Caribbean region.”
“We greatly coincidence in our positions on the international and multilateral agenda, and we admire Russia’s role in the defense and preservation of peace and international security,” the foreign minister stressed.
A dialogue for Venezuela
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said in Russia that Havana will encourage any process of dialogue between the government of Nicolás Maduro and the opposition that promotes “absolutely sovereign agreements” among Venezuelans to solve the crisis in the Andean country, referring to the incipient process in Oslo.
“Cuba will support any initiative aimed at promoting respectful dialogue based on sovereign equality, with strict adherence to the principles of international law, in particular the non-use, or threat of the use of force, non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of the States,” Rodríguez said at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.
The Cuban foreign minister added that, in this sense, Havana will encourage “any process of dialogue that takes into account the interests of the people of Venezuela with the participation of the Bolivarian and Chavista government to reach solutions and agreements that are absolutely sovereign and among Venezuelans.”
“So I can say that any initiative of this nature will be followed with hope on our part,” Rodríguez emphasized.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported this Saturday that the representatives of the government of Nicolás Maduro and the opposition will return to Oslo this week, after the preliminary meetings that took place on previous days to engage in a political dialogue between both parties.
“We express our full solidarity with President Nicolás Maduro Moros, legitimately elected, with the constitutional government of that country and with the civic-military union of its people,” insisted the Cuban foreign minister, who harshly criticized the U.S. position towards Venezuela.
“The U.S. government’s attempt to declare in force the Monroe Doctrine in an act of imperialist domination from another era must be categorically rejected,” he said.
“We should be careful, because the invocation of the Monroe Doctrine in our region has generally been accompanied by the use of military force and the so-called gunship diplomacy,” the Cuban foreign minister added.
The 1904 Monroe Doctrine attributed to the United States unilateral rights over Latin America, and is associated on the continent with U.S. imperialist history in the region.
“Mutually acceptable solutions”
Lavrov said along the same line that the Donald Trump administration completely ignores the will of the Caribbean and Latin American countries, that at a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in 2014 decided “to be an everlasting peace zone.”
“The Trump administration is making efforts to ensure that ideological differences between the opposition and the government lead to a military confrontation. It’s a sign of the lack of complete respect for Latin American countries that want to resolve their differences themselves, just as they decided five years ago,” he said.
The minister considered that Guaidó has acted until now “following the narrative imposed by the U.S., which believes the dialogue is only about the terms and dates of Maduro’s resignation.”
Lavrov also said that in the event that Guaidó sends representatives to Oslo, they will have “been previously appointed by the Trump administration” and the dialogue agenda “pre-selected” by Washington.
However, Lavrov expressed his hope that the dialogue will lead to “mutually acceptable solutions.”
Cuba against the Helms-Burton Act
Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez affirmed this Monday that his country is prepared to face the activation of Titles III and IV of the Helms-Burton Act, a measure that he described as a “new instrument” of the United States to strengthen the blockade against the island.
“These measures will be inapplicable, given the Cuban legal system,” the Cuban foreign minister told a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.
Rodríguez was referring to the recent decision of the Donald Trump government to activate Titles III and IV of the Helms-Burton Act that allow U.S. citizens and nationalized Cubans in the U.S. to file lawsuits in that country’s courts against companies that benefit from land or real estate that were expropriated on the island after the 1959 revolution.
“We are prepared to face the economic consequences derived from these measures, knowing that they will always have economic and humanitarian costs, but they will never manage to bend the will of our people,” he affirmed.
The minister recalled that in 1996 Cuba already approved the Law of Reaffirmation of Cuban Dignity and Sovereignty (Law 80), which will defend the interests of the national economy, its companies, its citizens and also trade and investment counterparts from third countries
“There has been a strong and broad international reaction against this new instrument, which strengthens the blockade against Cuba,” the foreign minister said, and stressed that Havana’s counterparts in trade, investment, tourism and other areas “have expressed that they will persist in their legitimate businesses” on the island.
“And our government has given all the guarantees of legal security with respect to a law that is totally inapplicable in our country, as established by a Cuban antidote law,” he added.
He also stressed that the Cuban economy “today is much more diversified” and cited as an example the export of medical services, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry and a “strong and safe tourism.”
Rodríguez denounced Washington’s decision to activate Titles III and IV of the Helms-Burton Act as “one more step in the aggressive application of U.S. laws against third countries, which constitutes a gross violation of international law and the sovereignty of all States.”
He added that it also seriously affects Cubans living abroad and, in particular, in the United States, and also violates the civil rights of Americans, such as their freedom to travel, for example.