Cuba's Position (from Granma)

Jose G. Perez jgperez at SPAMfreepcmail.com
Sat Sep 18 23:26:06 MDT 1999



[From Granma Digital, official organ of the Central Committee of the
Communist Party of Cuba. A translation of the key parts of the statement, as
well some comments by me (also in English) follow.]

Nota de la embajada de Cuba en Portugal

En relación con la posposición de la visita oficial a Portugal del Ministro
de Relaciones Exteriores de Cuba, compañero Felipe Pérez Roque, la embajada
de Cuba en ese país dio a conocer la siguiente nota de prensa:

Desde hace algún tiempo se había concertado realizar esta visita
correspondiente a la amable invitación del Ministro de los Negocios
Extranjeros de Portugal, excelentísimo señor Jaime Gama. Esta visita es del
mayor interés de Cuba, tomando en cuenta la prioridad que concede a sus
relaciones con Portugal, así como el mutuo deseo de desarrollarlas y
profundizarlas.
Estaban previstos encuentros con las más altas autoridades portuguesas para
ser entregadas personalmente, las invitaciones del Presidente cubano doctor
Fidel Castro Ruz, al Presidente y al Primer Ministro de Portugal, con motivo
de la IX Cumbre Iberoamericana, e intercambiar ampliamente puntos de vista
sobre esta y otros temas.

Tomando en cuenta que el gobierno portugués está centrado en la atención y
evolución de la situación en Timor-Este por cuanto se trata de un asunto de
su mayor prioridad, y no deseamos distraerlo de esa atención, en
coordinación con la parte portuguesa el Ministro cubano decidió posponer
esta visita para un momento más apropiado y, en virtud de ello, se
trasladaría expresamente a Portugal en la fecha en que ambas partes
consideren más conveniente.

En relación con la situación en Timor-Este, Cuba considera como algo
excepcional en este caso la necesidad del despliegue de una fuerza
internacional de paz bajo la dirección estricta de la Organización de
Naciones Unidas y sin pretensiones hegemónicas de potencias regionales o
grupos de potencias extraregionales, a la vez que expresa su disposición,
siempre que se cumplan estos requisitos, a participar en la misma con una un
idad de servicios médicos para la atención al personal militar y a la
población civil.
Una vez que dicha fuerza culmine su misión, Cuba estaría en igual
disposición de enviar brigadas médicas civiles en número suficiente para
continuar brindando sus servicios a la población timorense por el tiempo que
sea necesario.

Por otra parte, Cuba considera que deben respetarse cabalmente los
resultados del referendo del pasado 30 de agosto, para que el pueblo
timorense pueda acceder a su independencia sobre la base del respeto a su
voluntad como identidad nacional con cultura e intereses propios.

* * *

[The following translation of the key paragraphs of the statement is my own]

In  relation to the situation in East Timor, Cuba considers the need to
deploy an international peace force under the strict control of the United
Nations Organization and without hegemonic designs by either regional powers
or extraregional groups of powers to be an exception in this case. At the
same time, Cuba expresses its willingness, as long as these requirements are
met, to participate in this force with a medical services unit, to give
medical care to the military personnel and the civilian population. Once
this force completes its mission, Cuba will be equally willing to send
civilian medical brigades in sufficient numbers to continue offering
services to the Timorese population for as long as may be necessary.

In addition, Cuba believes that the results of the August 30 referendum must
be fully respected, so that the Timorese people can achieve their
independence on the basis of respect to their will as a national entity with
its own culture and interests.

* * *


Some things to note:

    The statement was initially displayed prominently on the various Cuban
publication web sites without, however, highlighting that the statement
dealt with East Timor in any way.

    However, the latest version of the cubaweb.cu home page puts the quote
about "Cuba considers the need for an international peace force in East
Timor to be an exception" as the lead news item.

    The presentation of Cuba's position on this important international
question in this roundabout way deserves some thought. It was buried in a
diplomatic note about a scheduling conflict -- but the note on the
scheduling conflict itself was prominently displayed.

    Moreover, the REASONS why Cuba considers this case to be an exception
are in no way indicated. Two very different lines of argument come to mind.
One is the straightforward one that under these circumstances, it was
reasonable for the Timorese to demand blue hats, just as an oppressed
minority community in some country might demand police and even army
protection from racist terror. The other is that, on the whole, the Cuban
leadership thinks this was an unwise move by the Timorese, and are trying to
make the best of a bad situation. The reason this case would be an
"exception" under that logic is that the legitimate representatives of the
people of Timor, whose right to independence and sovereignty is now
officially recognized, asked for this presence. By supporting the force the
Cubans would then be signaling the Timorese that they will not abandon them;
but they are also signaling that this is a very dangerous proposition.

Either way, the Cuban stance, clearly, is not to campaign for the sending of
the force, making this a central demand. Moreover, Cuba conditioned and
circumscribed its support for the force to it being under strict UN control
(i.e., to help bring about the independence of East Timor, as is explained
in the next paragraph), and not being a tool to promote either Australian or
American domination. Cuba's offer to participate with a medical brigade is
clearly aimed at helping to keep (together with the Chinese, etc.) the
imperialists in check.

Jose



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