tv U.S.- Cuba Diplomatic Relations CSPAN September 20, 2015 10:00am-11:42am EDT
>> you watching american history tv. follow us on twitter at sign -- a@cspan history. and cuba normalized .-matic relations up next on american history tv. peter kornbluh and william leogrande, co-author of "back channel to cuba: the hidden history of negotiation between havana and washington" discussed the o-matic relations. between the u.s. and cuba. they also considered what the future relationship between the two countries may look like. sony andnt -- this in associates hosted this event. it is an hour and 40 minutes. thank you for having us. i want to start with several coincidences -- if they are
coincidences. is two days before john kerry goes to cuba and raises the stars and stripes over the newly reconstituted u.s. embassy there. is it a coincidence that the sony and associates decided four months ago to schedule this top this very week 48 hours before this event? that wea coincidence are speaking here with you on ill leograndethat b and my new article comes out on the secret diplomacy president obama exercised with raul castro to bring about these momentous and historic changes in the u.s.-cuban relationship. -- is it artesan
coincidence that i and william leogrande were there when president obama and president castro both announced they were changing the policy? a lot of our associates thought that we knew that that was going to happen that day and that was why we were there. i had to take a picture of myself standing in front of the tv set while raul was on the set to prove i was there. he was an extraordinary time. finally, was a a coincidence that 10 years ago, we started working on this book? thinking ahead that this day would come? coincidence. of course, it was not. we thought down the road and we thought to ourselves, you know the narrative about u.s.-cuba relationship is all about what henry kissinger called the
aggression. the cia assassinations. the trade embargoes. in american's rhetoric. cuba sticking it to the united states all over the third world. that is an important history, but that is not the history that will get us to where it eventually these two countries need to go and will go. and that is reconciliation and positive engagement. so we said, let us work to put together under one cover the entire secret history that is completely unknown, or at least completely overshadowed, by the history of aggression and conflict. at history of efforts reconciliation and dialogue, of negotiations, top-secret meetings, going back all the way to the eisenhower administration -- but after the breach of
relations that are coming back now, start with john f. kennedy. these secret negotiations held the lessons for the policymakers that we knew would eventually and have come along to look at this situation and do something about it. we arrived at this day -- this is december 16, 2014, when president obama actually picked up the phone and became the first president of the united stro sincecall a ca the revolution. the next day, of course, the world was stunned by the announcement that the policy was going to change. the united states in cuba were going to move forward, rather than stay in the past. and we're going to have normal eye lateral the o-matic relations. officials.he two benjamin rhodes.
and the national security council latin america specialist to obama told to do the cubans. this is the book we wanted them to have. that they would have the lessons and no what had worked in the past and what had not. we found out later a couple of things. when the book cannot october 1, ricardo -- or perhaps ben rhodes, said to me informally we thought you guys had gotten the story. that somehow, our secret talks had leaked. but then we saw the book and realized we were still safe. kind of ine to share
the last phase of the 18 months of the talks that obama representatives undertook. we met with state department officials. john kerry's advisers came over to find -- to the national security archives. people read the book. that it held, i think, were useful. now, the point is to talk about how this all happened. president obama and his top this diplomacy. it was ultra secret. they use media areas, much like the presidents before them. the used third countries. other presidents, such as clinton, have used mexico. carter set up secret meetings in countries like -- in mexico as well. obama used canada.
and of course, the administration recruited the pope to give his political moralng and use his persuasion, which only he has in the most unique way, to provide both a catalyst and political cover for the change that was taking place. and to help these talks go forward. there was nine secret meetings. the focused on extraordinary dynamic of a prisoner exchange. in our book, we detail the prisoner exchanges that others had previously negotiated and the lessons of those exchanges. in obama's case, he wanted to get allen gross, this u.s. contractor who had been arrested in cuba while surreptitiously setting up satellite locations
networks for communities in havana and outside of havana. he wanted to get him out after allen had in prison for almost five years. the cubans wanted their cuban five spies back. these were five members of a network of spies known as the wasp network. these negotiations took place, two of them had already served their long sentences and had gone back cuba. but there were three left. they had been in prison almost 16 years. one had to life sentences. the cubans wanted them back. eventually, into the mix, they got a cia mole that the cia had inside the cuban intelligence community named armando's are armando.med the u.s. wanted him to trade.
a spyreferred to trade that they had in cuba for the cuban spies that were in the united states and then have allen gross released as a humanitarian gesture. this issue of how that was going , therk and the equation spy exchange and the prisoner exchange, dominated the first three or four meetings that took place. finally, after that was resolved, the two sides were muchto advance towards a broader issue. normalizing diplomatic relations. to the credit of the obama administration, this was an obama initiative. the administration knew that it could not just tweak the policy. it could not lift the embargo on its own, because congress has the votes to lift the embargo. in our book, we told a story on how that came about under the clinton administration. that congress got the power of what used to be a presidential
directive to codify the trade embargo. what obama could do under his executive powers is normalize diplomaticelations. name an ambassador. diplomatic status to an embassy. ambassador andan recognize a full embassy status or what has been the cuban interest section on 16th street since 1977. is what he did. that is the goal he agreed to with the pope's supports. in the final negotiating session under the pope's supervision in rome a year ago -- this last october. that is where we have arrived at today.
the history that we put together that was relevant to this is a history of similar talks in many respects. we go through all the common factors. we wanted obama to be able to say, just like he wanted the pope to be able to bless this, we wanted to give him the political cover of history. that is to be able to say that other presidents before him had had a dialogue with castro. and republican and democratic presidents tried to normalize relations with the castro regime, going all the way back to kennedy, including gerald ford, henry kissinger, coming up to clinton. we wanted obama to be able to say this concept of talking to the cubans, normalizing relations with cubans, this is not a heretical idea. this is not something that nobody has ever tried.
this is something that has great president in the history. i am only the latest person to try. we have to give him credit. failed,hers tried and he tried and succeeded. it is most interesting to think of why he succeeded and the political and amick and courage it took for him to succeed. thinking about this history for let's look at the cuban side of this. me what doessked fidel castro think about all this? people will ask that today. truth be told, tomorrow is his 89th birthday. august 13. he is older. he is frail. he has only made one real comment on this whole dynamic that was not even a public comment. it was in a letter he wrote to a student federation, in which he was quite tepid in his support.
he says i believe in civil relations with other states under international law. i cannot really trust the united states, however. and hemake that comment may well feel that way, but the historical record is always going to show that he himself set the foundation for what raul castro, his brother, has accomplished. this was not a heretical idea in cuba, either. did noth is -- and we know this before we started working on the project -- fidel castro secretly reached out to every single president since kennedy. at the beginning of their terms hith some kind of olive branc or jester saying we are interested in better relations with you, willing to talk, i dress your concerns. we will not kowtow to your demand and need to be treated
with equal respect to our sovereignty. but we are ready to talk. this memo on the screen is a reflection of one of the first sentences used -- he sent using che guevara about four or five months after the bay of cakes -- bay of pigs debacle. told -- thank you for the bay of pigs. we really appreciate it. you helped us consolidate the revolution. and you transformed us -- our ourselvesansformed from an aggrieved country into an equal. and as an equal, he said, we are now willing to discuss with you the issues that you want to talk about, including our support for revolution in other parts of latin america, etc.
-- and hase did say been in every message from castro ever since -- was that the one thing that was not on the negotiating table and will never be is our system of government. we are not going to negotiate away the cuban revolution and its socialist direction. sent a similar message to lyndon johnson after kennedy was killed. he was a journalist. he congratulated johnson on taking over. he said he would support him in the 1964 election by trying to behave. and if johnson needed to use cuba as a political whipping the campaign that caching would understand, as long as he sent a back message
channels saying it was all politics and was not real. in .5 again reiterating -- please tell the president he should not interpret my desire for discussions as a sign of weakness. that interpretation would be a serious miscalculation. we are not weak. the revolution is very strong. it is from this position of strength, he says, that we will restiate our views and the of the world. he basically alludes to the fact there were talks under the kennedy measures and going on the very moment that kennedy was killed and fidel would be interested in continuing the talks if lyndon johnson was. castro reached out to richard nixon. he had met him in washington. they did not get along. nixon was known as an inveterate castro hader.
but 11 days after nixon's castroation in 1959, called in the swiss ambassador and offered a whole discussion about things he had an interest in discussing and having a negotiating with the united states. this message was carried by the swiss government, which was caretaker between the united states and kissinger for many years. they took care of the u.s. embassy building in havana. took care of the cuban embassy building here in -- on 16th street. in this case, it was phenomenal. this led to a series of internal documents from henry kissinger to nixon, saying castro seems be reaching out to us, sending out a feeling of detente, what will you do? nixon's initial response was to -- ever talk about
and then kissinger went on to negotiate and anti-hijacking accord with the cubans. and at the end of the nixon era, kissinger entered into secret talks with castro. castro reached out to reagan as well. the whole dynamic over cuba's presence in central america was at issue. several times a dialogue on central america. the reagan administration him, rejectedssed his gestures as propaganda. but again, at the beginning of the administration and throughout 1981 and 1982, castro continually reached out to the reagan administration. long history of interest in better relations with the united states. in the united states had a long history of talking to the cubans. thisdy started looking at
seriously in the wake of the cuban missile crisis. who can blame him? looking back with the rational thing to do. the world had been put on the brink of nuclear war from this little island. thanhad no option other intervention, dialogue should be an option. one of his aides said we should try a sweet approach in addition to the covert nastiness we are doing. kennedy took the position that was an interesting option. throughout the last year of his up to the, and even day of his death, the minute of his death, he was engaged in an effort to have secret talks with castro. talk about this france's -- talk about differences. improve relations. meetings.cret
and on the very moment that kennedy was killed, he had a messenger -- a french journalist -- meeting with fidel and telling him that kennedy had said to the journalist, i want you to carry a message to fidel, tell him there are two problems we have -- his relationship with the soviets and screwing around in latin america and fomenting revolution. but we want to talk about those things. we actually think we can learn to coexist with the cuban government. get was so sensitive -- you a sense of the sensitivity in this day and age that obama went through in his secret talks -- but it was sensitive then. kennedy had to use intermediaries. he used one lawyer -- james donovan -- and to journalists as -- as hisdiator is key intermediaries. each one of these individuals have their own extraordinary
stories of their missions, particularly in 1963. and we tell the stories in the book. and they are really fascinating. i would say from a bipartisan perspective that the most fascinating story is henry kissinger's efforts to normalize relations with the cubans. side -- have on one let's see if the pointer works -- on your left side, you have an aide memoir that kissinger scripted to give to castro and early 1975. the tone of the discussion is magnanimous. very direct. very disappointed. and very respectful. very much the tone obama has adopted. it basically says if we can have a detente with china and the
soviet union, we can have a detente in the caribbean. even though we disagree ideologically, that does not mean we forever have to disagree when it relates to the common interests in the region and to each other. on the other side, there is the on a page of a memorandum secret conversation, which is the first, real negotiation between the united states and cuba since the break in relations. a secret meeting that went on for more than three hours in the pierre hotel with lunch. kissinger's emissaries, lawrence eagleburger who eventually became secretary of state himself, and assistant secretary of state for latin america, william rogers. cubans, two it cubans. and secretly talking about the differences between the countries. when you read the transcript, you get a sense of how these secret talks go.
but how the cubans really feel that they are compelled to start these meetings with a sense of the history, the attacks may have suffered at the hands of the empire, if you will. in getting that out on the table before moving to address the issues that confront the two sides. that was the same dynamic obama's negotiators went through. jimmy carter was really the president sent -- was really the predecessor to barack obama. kissinger tried and failed. he set up at least half a dozen secret meetings. decided to send troops into the angola conflict in africa rather than pursue normalization talks with kissinger. he felt the solidarity of the anti-colonial struggle in africa at that time, a
priority for his country and his revolution. should like the u.s. normalize relations at any rate, particularlyics, with reagan challenging gerald ford for the republican nomination in 1976, or too much -- word too much. we went from respectful secret talks under kissinger in 1975 to kissinger's threats to actually attack cuba in 1976. the contingency plans of which we uncovered for our book and published in the "new york times" when the book was released. so kissinger failed, but he passed the legacy of his efforts to jimmy carter. jimmy carter became the first president to say what obama ended up saying. am insured to my national
security staff to find a way to normalize relations with cuba.' and awhole secret history whole secret history ensued. the president wanted this. again, the issue was africa. we had preconditions to negotiations. we wanted cubans to get out of africa before we would lift the embargo. there, the whole issue of successful talks stalled. improving theas tone of relations for a few years. setting up these interest sections, which have today, this week, transformed completely into embassies. normalize not get to relations. but the historical record that carter left as president is the one that was philosophically and in some ways procedurally similar to the one that obama picked up on. let me leave you with the lessons of this history, which bill leogrande really
articulated at the end of the book. but we thought was the end of the book. prof. leogrande: the first end of the book. mr. kornbluh: the first end of the book. the book came out and october of last year and then in december, we found we had to rewrite the book. which we happily have. these are the five lessons. i think intuitively, the obama administration's land him. even in times of intense hostility, there has been an interest in dialogue. -- have always been this proposed to negotiate. it has been an anti-castro myth that the cubans hate the united states and never wanted to negotiate and normalize relations with us. yield to demands from the united states. they consider the word concession to be a curse word.
and they will not do it and have not done it. responsive toe u.s. concerns, as they were in the last two years of the secret talks with the obama administration. many presidents tried to go the step-by-step routes. we will do this, check for tat -- tit-for-tat. clinton called a calibrated response. it never worked, this kind of drawnout process. that, then weu do do something bigger, then you do something bigger and finally we arrive at normal relations. process newof the it was coming and organized their forces to defeat it. -- the book cites example after example of this.
that is what obama learned. he bit the bullet and he did not just do this prisoner exchange and say let's just work to the next step, getting you off the terrorism list if you do x y and z. he said we won't just do these things. and you do not have to do much, but we will move towards normal relations. and then those normal relations, his representative said to the cubans, we think we'll have a better impact on your society than the policy of hostility and estrangement the united states has been pursuing all these years. the final lessons is that cuba has always wanted to be treated an equal in respect to national sovereignty. and the soul and the administration adopted in all of these talks, privately and in public speeches, has certainly reflected that. even raul castro acknowledge that as recently as this last
july 20, when the cuban embassy was opened and roll sent a letter to obama, saying -- and obama,nt a letter to saying they appreciated the tone and approach this administration has held. this is where we arrived. this symbolic handshake at the summit of the americas. we have even come a further distance since then. john kerry is about to become the highest ranking u.s. official to travel to cuba since the revolution in 1959. while he is there, i predict to you, that he will talk quietly about the conditions and preparations for barack obama to go to cuba. for barack obama to have his nixon in china moment. obama with a trip to cuba as the first sitting president of the united dates going to cuba after the
revolution, consolidating all of to changematic effort the policy, put the past behind us, and looked towards a much better future in u.s.-cuban relations. what that future will and tail, what obstacles to it being smooth and positive are, i will turn over to my colleague and co-author, willi leogrande. [laughter] -- [applause] prof. leogrande: let me add my thanks to this new sony and for hosting us this evening. and my thanks to you for turning out to join us. good has given you a very account of the history of this relationship and the efforts that -- of that dialogue over the last half-century. he has outlined what we did in the book, which is talk about where we have been. now i will talk about where we
are a little and where we are going. as peter was saying at the end, there has already been some important progress. cuba has come off the state department list of international sponsors of state terrorism. agreed to normalize diplomatic relations. and on the 20th of july, the two interest sections went away. it took down the plaques that set interest section and put up plaques that said embassy of cuba in the united states of america and embassy of the united states of america in cuba. and the day after tomorrow, secretary kerry will be in havana for the ceremonial flag raising. the president came to office saying that he wanted to do this. at the old policy did not make any sense. but it took him six years to get there.
and it took 18 months of secret negotiations to reach the agreement announced on december 17. waspresident's rationale the old policy did not work. we tried it for 54 years. when youyou try for -- try something for that long and it does not work, it is time to try something else. he said this old policy was way past its expiration date. on the cuban side, the principal motive for normalizing relations with the united states is fundamentally an economic one. rival castro began, in 2011, it can process the cubans call the updating of their economy. which may mean moving away from the hyper centralized economic planning system they inherited from the soviet union in the 1970's and moving towards a more chinese model of market socialism. that means greater cheap and openness to the global -- that means greater cuban openness to
the global economy. the cuban economy is centered around tourism. and the united states is the principal source of tourists going to the caribbean. noty, only about 5% -- counting cuban-americans visiting family -- only 5% of to cuba areoing americans, going on people to people exchanges. nearly 3stimates million u.s. terrorists would go to cuba is the provision on tourist travel word lifted. thecubans said with resilience establishing -- it is on obvious transit point for containers going to the atlantic coast of the united states. so cuba is clearly asking --
betting on the normalization of u.s. cuba trade relations. and the cuban savory meat means of dollars every year in direct foreign investment in order to attain the kinds of rates of economic growth they are interested in. the united states is an obvious potential source for that level of direct foreign investment. gorbachev ended the cold where because he wanted to pursue perestroika, cuban wanted to normalize relations to update the cuban economy. but there are a lot of issues that remain. we have done the easy part. diplomaticmalized relations. it took six months of talks, much longer than most people thought it would take. but it got done. now, attention has to turn to the many other issues that still divide the two countries.
discussions will go forward into areas. the easier is on discussions of mutual interest. when two sides not in conflict have the opportunity to cooperate to the benefit of both. and the other is all the issues that remain in disagreement between the sides. let me talk about the more positive side. interests of mutual interest. there are already discussions about restoring normal postal to cuba. we have not had that since 1960. we have been cooperating with the cubans on interdicting narcotics trafficking through the caribbean since 1999. billf the agreements that clinton's administration signed. we talked about the negotiations that went into that in the book. limiteds still
cooperation. a case-by-case cooperation. there are opportunities to expand that into joint planning, exercises, intelligence sharing, that would make that cooperation much better. otherwise, cuba is a blind spot when it comes to stopping narcotics traffic. there is the issue of environmental protection. before the deepwater horizon accident, the united states government did not talk to cuba about environmental protection. the only dialogue was between cuban government institutions and u.s. nongovernmental defensetions like the fund. outdated deepwater horizon accidents, when the cubans began to drill in their own zone not far off the coast of florida, there still was not a dialogue like that. and the obvious situation that had it there been an accident in
cuban waters, all of the assets that converged on deepwater horizon to try to contain the cuba, couldn't go to because of the embargo. that has been changed. the president granted a general license or trade with cuba for the purposes of environmental protection. so if there were an accident , if there were an accident, all of those u.s. assets could immediately go to try to contain that still. more importantly now is a dialogue about joint planning for avoiding the kind of and mitigating its effects, if it were to happen. several working groups of people max -- of diplomats have been set up to talk about the issues.
the u.s. embargo and claims are connected. part of the rationale for the embargo was because cuba inionalized u.s. property 1959 and 1960, which, with interest, the united states cites as $7 billion in claims. the cubans have counterclaims for the damage done by the cia's -- secret war in the 1960's and the embargo itself. most of the most recent numbers $116.7 billion. someere will be negotiating that has to go on about the claims, but a working group has already been warmed that will begin to talk about how the deal with the issue of clear thea way to table, if you will, for movement on the issue of the embargo itself.
there is a working group on law enforcement cooperation beyond narcotics trafficking, particularly with a focus on human trafficking and fugitives. there is significant human trafficking off the island of cuba. on boats to mexico to get entry into the united states. in conjunction, a whole industry thatunterfeiting documents has grown up around this opportunity for a human trafficking. so there is beginning to be cooperation around that. and then fugitives. there are about 70 u.s. fugitives, fugitives from u.s. justice, in cuba. the u.s. would like them back. most of them are common criminals. and there is some possibility of them being returned. cuba has returned to some common
criminals historically. and a u.s. has returned some cuban exiles who engaged in acts of violence -- hijacking boats for example -- in their effort to come to the united states. the harder issue will be be -- peoplesocieties cuba has given political asylum to. -- she is a lack liberation army member historically and was convicted of killing a new jersey state trooper before she escaped and went to cuba. the unitedesponse is states harbors a number of people who engage an of clinical violence against cuba. the foremost on that list is l ouis cariles, who is the author
of a successful plot to blow up in 1976,n airliner killing all 73 people on board. she is walking free in the united states. then there are the u.s. programs that got allen gross arrested in 2009. allen gross is home but those programs are still in place and functioning. the risk is there could the another allen gross tomorrow. senior people in the obama administration recognize that these programs, which under the bush administration in -- they're the energy all has carry them forward -- subvert thed to cuban government. to build opposition to the cuban government. the obama administration
recognizes it that in that configuration, these programs are not compatible with the new relationship and would like to restructure them in a way that they reflect more authentic kinds of social engagement that the president's policy is built around. but he cannot just stop them, because they are programs authorized and funded by congress. to shift theirle focus, but they are not going to go away. and the cubans continue to object to those programs as violations of their sovereignty. we still broadcast tv and radio to cuba, spending millions of dollars every year doing that. they do not have much of an audience on the island, but they have become some of a pork barrel for certain elements of the cuban-american community. and they have the protection of
representatives in that community in congress. they are likely to go away anytime soon. we have the cuban adjustment act of 1966. this was a law passed in order cubans to adjust the saddest become permanent residents of the united states. it remains in force today. any cuban arriving in the u.s. legally or illegally, after a year, has the right to adjust their status to permanent residency and be on a track to citizenship. the only group of aliens in the world who have that kind of .pecial privilege and relation foroes create an incentive human trafficking. if you're cuba and would like to come to the united states, you know that one you get here, if you can, then you will be able to stay.
if you get picked up at sea, however, you get sent back. that is the dry for policy. we can talk more about that in the question and answer. there is something called the medical -- cuban medical professionals program. this is a program put in place by the bush administration, which gives a fast track to permanent residency and citizenship for cuban medical personnel serving abroad on humanitarian mission if a defect to the united states. this became an obstacle to u.s. -cuba cooperation in providing assistance to haiti after the january 2 10 2009, -- january 2010. it also wasn't obstacle to deeper cooperation between cuba and the united states and writing the ebola -- in fighting the ebola epidemic in africa.
we cannot forget guantanamo, of course. the united states still occupies a base at guantanamo. occupy it under a lease signed with cuba in 1934. --least gives us the right that treaty gives us the right to lease the basic in perpetuity. thinks thatvernment treaty is invalid and wants us out. we think of the treaty is valid and are not prepared to leave. is ablel the president to find a way to close the ,etention center at guantanamo yet another problem he has in terms of being able to deal with guantanamo bay naval base. we send the cubans a check every year for $4085. the rents for the base. pretty good deal. cannot get an apartment here for that.
fidel castro used to put those checks and a drawer and show them to visitors. they have never cashed it. finally, there is the ongoing issue of human rights. --re is a working group to fore is a working already human rights. i imagine that the two sides expressed their different concessions that human rights. emphasizingans social rights and the u.s. emphasizing vertical liberties. i am not sure that was a productive exchange, but i think there are possibilities for some actual progress in that working group. both countries have signed a certain international covenants to which they are committed. it is not a matter of yes, big power chauvinism or imperialism.
to ask cuba to live up to the international covenants that the cuban government itself has signed. i am sure the cubans will have similar demands of us. reaction to the new departure in u.s. policy has been dramatically positive. internationally, he received very broad support. every president in latin america praised president obama for this change in policy. the european union added its praise, and of course, as peter mentioned, the pope gave his blessing. public opinion in the united states has been very favorable. there have been half a dozen polls done since september 17. -- december 17. the positive reaction is typically north of 50% to even
70% approval for the new policy. as time goes on, that number has been trending upward rather than down. even the cuban-american community in south florida, the most conservative element of that community in the u.s., there has been positive supports. the cuban american community is about equally divided. some polls showing a slight majority in favor. sums show a slight majority against. is, even in that community, people have come to see that a more normal state to state relationship empowers them as a community to rebuild the bridges to their family on the island. that is something we have seen been going on in the cuban community. that kind of reconstruction of family ties. now, the president has made it even easier.
the negative reaction has come largely from the republican congress. not all republicans, it is important to say. i said republicans in a speech not too long ago, and a member staffator jeff flake's brought me up short and said not all republicans. all democrats not are in favor of, as robert menendez would quick to point out. but the most vocal opponents have been the presidential aspirants on the republican side . at least before donald trump salt -- at least before donald oxygen outd all the of the room. i do not think he has had anything to say about it. but the most outspoken critics have been senator rubio, senator cruz, and former governor bush. it is part of the broader that then narrative
president is weak on foreign policy, from syria to iran to ukraine to cuba. is that evenns though there are a number of republicans in congress who would be interested in changing the economic embargo against cuba, because they represent business interests twomarket, ae campaign season, the republican leadership in the house and allow are not going to any legislation to pass that would make obama's cuba policy look like a success. so there is really not much likelihood that we are going to or a repeal of the embargo an appeal of the ban on tourist travel in this congress. while this campaign is going on. been in 2017,e however, is another matter entirely. if a democrat is in the white house, and particularly if they
democrat is in the white house and the democrats were to recapture the senate, which is plausible, then i think there would be real opportunity. president obama himself would be out of the picture, and the republicans -- the rank and file republicans' believe in free trade and business and their belief in the right to travel without the government telling you where you can and cannot go athink would create enough of groundswell among republicans in congress to actually have a chance of passing some legislation that would remove some of these remaining legislative barriers to a normalization of relations. it is possible the republicans might win the presidential election in 2016. would a republican president
simply reverse everything president obama has done? he could. because everything the president has done has been done with his executive authority. but politically, i think it would be difficult. i see that for a couple of reasons. there has been such universal support for this abroad that a republican president would pay a steep price for simply reversing everything that has been done, breaking diplomatic relations for no cause. i do not think a republican president -- at least most of the republicans running -- would do that. it is interesting that jeb bush, when asked if he would break relations with cuba is elected said i do not know, i have not thought about it. [laughter] really? well, i think that is his recognition that that might not be in the national interest to do.
i think more likely what you would see with a republican president is simply the process being slowed. the other reason it would be difficult, i think, is precisely the fact that it has been a political success story in the united states. in the polls. as we say, not just among people generally, but also even in the cuban-american community. so there is a lot of issues left. they are not going to get solved quickly. fromhey should not detract the historic nature of what has happened. a policy in place for 54 years has been changed on the mentally. and it is reminiscent, to me, of nixon's trip to china. was longlicy that overdue for change.
had been kept in place for fear of a good mystic political lobby. when he changed it, it was like everybody realized the emperor had no clothes and the old policy did not make any sense. and it just was not possible to turn that clock back once people saw how important it was to move into the future. 17 2014sense, december really change the terms of the fundamentally.ba so going forward, it seems that the question for washington and havana is not whether they will ultimately normalize relationships -- normalize their relationship, but one and how. thank you for coming and we are happy to answer questions. [applause] >> i encourage you to stand at this microphone in order to ask
your questions so you will be recorded. >> thank you very much for a very interesting let your from the both of you. i have two questions. number one is what do you feel the relationship between the of the relationship between the united states and cuba might have between relations between the united dates and iran and/or the diet states and north korea? between the united states and iran and for the united states and north korea? d think they summit of the americas in panama had a lot to making this relationship happen? mr. kornbluh: i will plant all the hard questions the bill. prof. leogrande: so i get iran and north korea? can i answer that in relation to venezuela, i have a better
answer. [laughter] have a reasonably good relationship with both the government of iran and north korea. that, if particularly government of north korea were interested in improving relations with the united states, the cuban experience shows it is possible. government ofthe north korea is interested in a better relationship with the united states. but i do want to talk about venezuela. venezuela is in a deep clinical and economic crisis. on the very dependent sale of venezuelan oil to cuba at subsidized prices in exchange for cuba sending medical professionals to work in the venezuelan health care system. it is not in cuba's interest to
see social turmoil and violence in venezuela. the united states does not want to see social turmoil or violence in venezuela. it seems there is an opportunity there, since the venezuelan government has zero trust with united states but has a good relationship with havana, it is possible the cubans may be able to be helpful particularly in helping with the rest of latin america to find a mediated solution to that crisis in venezuela. they had been doing that in colombia successfully. close to aare very settlement of the colombian civil war, in large part because of cuba's assist in mediating the dialogue between the colombian government. mr. kornbluh: president obama and president castro has given us a historic model of conduct
in the potential for change. president obama went out of his way when he announced on july 1 that in fact the normalization of the phonetic relations would take place. that this is what change looks like. and he heralded the idea that you could use diplomacy for positive change. he pursued that with iran as well. now, of course, we are in the middle of a discussion over whether an accord with iran will go forward. but i hope that the magnitude of these last two years and what he has accomplished on cuba stays high profile in the future of u.s. foreign policy and future diplomatic efforts. as as held up and examined model for what is possible with wayne smithas called the closest of enemies. that does not only apply to
cuba, but other countries as well. saype that -- and i have to this is one of the reasons i feel dedicated to making sure we have the full historical record on what has just transpired. so we know how this happened. so we can look to what as a foundation for future situations like this. on the issue of the summit of the americas, this photograph above is from there -- i was fortunate enough to go to the summit of the americas and get white house press corps credentials and be with the president at his press conference three or four minutes after he came out of his private meeting with raul castro. and this was a historic moment as well, one of several in this process. but this was the first time a president of the united states had physically sat down and had a real meeting with a president of cuba since the cuban revolution.
they had shaken hands once before, you may remember, at the funeral of nelson mandela. in the middle of the secret talks. talks, that photograph resonated around the world. it was a turning point. there was a discussion between the two. i think they moved their staffs forward on coming to a resolution. a lot of the conflicts, even the ones that will has just articulated, so that we who get to the point where those conflicts could be set aside and diplomatic relations would be reestablished and then we could look at those issues. both president are a lot more civil to each other then some of the things going on at the grassroots level of the summit. but they really did set an example for their countries. it was a historic moment, it
certainly was a turning point. we will see another turning point on friday. john kerry in cuba. he will be followed by a visit by pope francis. there have been two other visits by hopes to cuba, but this particular visit, by this pope from argentina who speaks spanish, is going to be quite covered. high profile. a lot of cuban-americans from miami will go to cuba to see the pope. and then the pope is coming here and is likely to say a few words about cuba and the situation. he may even say that the embargo is something that he will not bless. then, quite frankly, there is a lot of the chatter about
president obama going to cuba. it is something he clearly wants to do. what the conditions are, how u.s. cuban relations proceed, remains to be seen, but i think he knows that he can consolidate very changes in -- forcefully if he actually goes to cuba, rather than kind of leave it as an iffy legacy. >> thank you. peter, william, i think you did a great job with the book and i think it is going to be very useful for people who study foreign relations. steered au have pretty neutral course, which is unusual these days. but anyway, what i am intrigued with -- and i know in the book war tooksize that cold
dominance over human rights, or at least that is what i picked up. my reading of it is a little different. i think it was unequal footing. carteru talked about the presidential election in march of 77, if you look at the bottom everything us is human rights, democracy, etc.. .hich brings me to my question as somebody who studies american diplomatic history, there has always been this dichotomy, or if you would, this balancing beam between american foreign-policy being -- pushing freedom, the things are revolution civilized, and the other side is that america's is ms. is business. is hisica's business nose. isamerica's business business.
i wonder if we have reached a point where the united states is going to mimic western europe and considered automatic relations just a standard thing. the idea that you don't grant diplomatic recognition because you disagree with the government . that is going by the wayside. there are many considerations you can think about. americans are exhausted with the war in iraq, the middle east. we can go into that. but i wonder if you see this is really a turning point in america's diplomatic history, where we are actually now going to that model of just full diplomatic recognition with all its characterizations, being the norm in the future as opposed to the past. mr. leogrande: i actually think it has been the norm all along and there have just been a few anomalous cases, particularly in countries that have held revolutions in which our interest were targeted. have got normal
diplomatic relations with lots and lots of countries around the world that we have profound disagreement with, that have lousy human rights record, and that we criticize over human rights. that this think policy in recent years has been based on recognition being granted only to government that we thought somehow were good human rights performers. that was not even true under jimmy carter. what president carter did was to say the united states -- only in some cases -- is not going to provide military assistance to are gross andt consistent violators of internationally recognized human rights. even then the carter administration -- we had a relationship with iran, for shah.e, and that
mr. kornbluh: or myanmar. mr. leogrande: i guess the question -- is, guess the question here the nature of the regime does not matter. juanu hear and read what sanchez -- you know, castro's bodyguard -- his qualification of the regime gives little to no hope of any regime change if you take anything he says seriously or giving credence. he is not the only one. again, i go back to that. we are just becoming neutral, it seems to me, or maybe making that policy a much more physical part of our diplomacy. mr. leogrande: i think this is a debate that has gone on in a lot of different cases. the president's strategy in cuba is to try to press for a greater openness in cuban society, and for the cuban government to be
more respectful of human rights. i think he believes that he will thatmore yardage doing through a policy of engagement than we have gained in the last 54 years through a policy of you -- of hostility. he could be wrong. but the policy has only been in place for about seven months. the other policy literally with cap a century -- was half a century and did not help human rights in cuba at all. >> thank you both for a fascinating talk. there was one thing, peter, in your section that struck me as curious. you spoke of a number of presidents, from eisenhower and , and then youo on flashed a graphic up of those same residents, with one exception. henry kissinger. i was curious about that because the president is clearly setting the policy and the various secretary of state throughout this.
various secretary of state's were those that executed them, so i'm curious why you made that choice. the book is kind organized by president. the chapter on nixon is the nixon ford chapter. i really wanted to college because injured chapter -- i wanted to call it the kissinger chapter. i could not convince bill to agree. fory kissinger, for god or , had hisod or for bad own dynamic as a very powerful foreign-policy maker. at one point he was both national security advisor and secretary of state. he initiated this contact with castro without asking richard nixon's permission. it was right in the summer of watergate, and nixon was clearly going to be besieged --
impeached and leaves. he did this with the guy who ends up being president of national public radio, a longtime democrat who would provide perfect political cover if it were ever leaked that kissinger used him to send a message to castro. and then really, when we look at thatecord, it became clear he said very little to gerald ford. the stuff that he did say about what he was doing was kind of lies by omission. , very very cryptic clipped. at some point he would say things that were not quite true. he would go in and he would vaguely tell the president, he would say, castro wants to meet with you, our customer wants to talk. these people have
been pursuing castro to hold these talks. the documentary record comes from kissinger's office. we have all his meetings with gerald ford as well. when you are looking through them you see this was largely a kissinger initiative and that is why he was there. ronald reagan fired al hague. i have to say, many years ago when we first did a story on kissinger and castro and it was the first story of the book. it came out in the new york review of books in 1994, more .han 20 years ago now we at the national security archive, where i work, had a classification of this special file that kissinger's office caps on these secret talks.
william rogers with the emissary and policy pusher of this for kissinger. he kept this great, detailed file. all of his memos to kissinger, all of his travel logs and discussions. thislped him get declassified and then we went through it and wrote this extraordinary article. i actually did it with a scholar named james blake. at that point there was some press about this, and as i recall it was a cbs reporter went to gerald ford and said, what do you have to say about this history? and ford said, i didn't do any of this. i didn't authorize any of this. [laughter] mr. kornbluh: what can you say? the truth is, well he did and he did not. but it happened, very
consistently, during his presidency. >> thank you. >> i am particularly interested in the guantanamo problem, as exacerbated by the presence of our present in guantanamo -- our prison in guantanamo. i'm wondering what would happen if we gave guantanamo back to the cubans, complete with the prison, and the occupants thereof. [laughter] >> what with the cubans likely do? with a have any use for the occupants? mr. kornbluh: i think they would close that based like this and take credit for advancing the cause of human rights. >> what would they do with the base? mr. leogrande: when it was
opened castro was asked about what do you think about what the united states is doing with these prisoners. and we said, we want -- he we said -- he said we wanted back, but we don't have a problem with the prisoners, and if they escape we would return them. the cubans were very sympathetic to the united states after september 11, and were prepared to try to be helpful to the united states. when the president want -- west to congress is either you are with us or you are with the terrorists, fidel castro got a little worried about that. he was clearly not with the united states. of course cuba at that point was on the state department's list as a state sponsor of terrorism. worry cubans did begin to about intervention, particularly
after the war in iraq. thank you for a wonderful book. it is a good read, well written, well organized. twouestions, one in the --t questions, what in the past and one in the future. it seems to me that during the negotiations, reading your book, that the u.s. kept moving the goalposts. that one president sort of came to a resolution, and that the next president started on a new or different issue, and they , onst got that resolved africa, on human rights, elections. in subversion of central american neighbors, bay of pigs,
etc.. is that correct? or is it just that nobody really wanted to solve the problem, and they just kept inventing these new issues? my question about the future is, on the to do list, if anybody working on the issue of restitution of property of property,se businesses, etc., were nationalized and taken? there are people here and you see that i know who came from cuba and their property is gone. is there any hope for them to get any restitution or reimbursement? mr. leogrande: let me talk about the claims issue. the human government recognizes the claims of u.s. nationals. u.s. citizens who own property that was recognized and u.s. companies that were nationalized. it does not recognize that the ice age has any right to make a claim on behalf of someone who
is a cuban citizen at the time. cuban-americans who would like to get their property back, or like to get some kind of property,on for their the cuban government does not recognize those claims. however, helms-burton was it -- , thelation passed in 1996 liberty and democracy solidarity acts, does it that the embargo stays in place until the cuban government means a whole series of criteria, one of which is restoring the property of cuban americans who had subsequently become u.s. citizens. claims working group is certainly going to start out talking about the recognized claims, the claims that are recognized under either national law or that the human government
recognizes. there is an argument to be made that it would be in the interest of the cuban government to find some way of satisfying some cuban-american claims, if that the door to detente between the cuban government and the united states. there are various formulas through which one might try to do that. you can look like and what we have done in eastern europe or in vietnam, some other countries. or are a lot of different models that can be used. ours, at thef brookings institute, is actually working on a white paper. it will be up in a couple of weeks. he begins to talk about some of these models and how this issue might be engaged. mr. kornbluh: in our book there
is actually a quote from rain first who is one of the in cuba after.s. it was reopened. became kind of the dean of work to change the policy. we caught him as saying, u.s. officials keep moving the goalposts on the cubans. it is true when you look throughout the whole history and the evolution of the history, that the initial position that kennedy took was, there are these two issues. one was the soviet military relationship and the other was castro's involvement in fomenting revolution in other parts of latin america. cuba did not want to be a the only revolutionary state in latin america and figured that there were other revolutionary governments and latin america and then they would not be as isolated, subject to u.s. pressure.
and they had a philosophical vision on the supporting revolution in countries that were really very underdeveloped and very obviously run by a few very wealthy families. that was the initial goalposts that kennedy set up. and then throughout the cold war the was essentially condition, during the johnson administration there was secret diplomacy. they used the spaniards to send 1968,age to pastor in basically reminding him that there were two issues that really were a problem and if he could address them they could talk. but when castro said he was willing to address these things, he did not get any real risk on. nixon came in and he just did
not want to have talks, but he ended up forced to address the issue, which was the precursor of counterterrorism. that terrorism was the hijacking .f that plane to cuba then as the cold war fated a new rationale took place. there was a great story in the book, kind of the end of the soviet union, the soviets are trying to tell -- working with the cubans to pass the message to the first george bush, saying that we should bury the hatchet. we should get together. and george bush says, we're not going to talk to them. then you get this whole euro were democratic standards
the band that the united states had on cuba before they would there is abargo variance of this throughout until we arrive at president obama. i have heard will answer this question before, and he may have something to add. the one thing that is important to add is that this is now inscribed in law. i expect that at some point the terms of that legislation are going to be changed, but as long as that is in place, this is really the principal obstacle in the development of a more normal relationship for cubans. economic sanctions are obviously
critical and it is going to require an act of congress to an act ofm or it -- congress to change them. veryank you for a interesting address. it kept the interest of my two teenage sons. they were not dragged here by me but they were seriously interested. you have done a very great deed. my question is, traditionally cuba has had very close ties with china and russia. this fragile, out peaceortable piece -- with china and russia. but when they say i am here to help you, i am your friend, they are not our friends. , how does this closeness with cuba fact the relationship -- effects the
relationship we have with china and russia? mr. leogrande: i think that is a really good question. the causality is maybe the other way around, that is to say, cuba's relationship today with china and russia is mostly a commercial and financial relationship, rather than a strategic and military one. i think from the u.s. point of view if one were to take a certain point of view, in my make sense to normalize our relationship with cuba so they cuba does not move closer to russia and china, which clearly have emerged as our global rivals. want to be putot back in the position they were
1980's, where the they were dependent upon the soviet union. when the soviet union collapsed, that dependent economically was nearly fatal. they are interested in train. they are interested in aid. they are interested that the chinese want to invest, but they want to keep their international economic relations as diversified as they can so they do not fall back on the dependency they had first on spain, then on the nine states, then on the soviet union. me just say, let when you study the history in great detail, it was not as cozy as you would think. there were very deep decisions, tension, and even breaches. at a time -- there were times
when u.s. officials thought, why don't we try to reduce? of course our security advisers divided into two groups, one group but said let's exploited by going in there and getting rid of castor now that he does not have his patron behind him. the other group said, let's go in and talk to him about whether he might come back in and rejoin as a full-fledged member. offer him some reason to come back. this went on quite a bit. the soviets were not actually great supporters of cuba's independent policies around the world. cuba went into angola without soviet support. castro kind of goaded the soviet union into providing infrastructure and logistical support for the campaign. documentsclassified of high soviet officials ativing in cuba to scream
castro. thesoviets did not support concept of armed insurrection in the third world. they wanted the communist parties to come to power electric early. electorally. power the chinese relationship has not been like that, but about 10 years ago, maybe 12 or 14 years ago, the chinese started to really make a move into cuba. they started building hotels. cuban students started going to china to learn to speak chinese. then that effort really fizzled china isof ways, and still a commercial interest but not as significant. cuba really is trying to keep its economy diversified and not dependent on anyone country. i also want to thank you for
your presentation and presence by saying, my wife and i had the privilege of going to cuba in one of these so-called people to people programs in may. you alluded to this, that in order to really reboot your economy it will require markedly increasing tourism. it is very obvious when you go there, they have to do two things in order to do that. they have to upgrade their banking system so that you can use credit cards. and two, they have to have high-speed internet throughout the island. i think only about 20% of the island has that. they already have deals with four different cruise lines to bring these big cruise ships into havana. large numbers of american tourist's are not going to want to go there and do that. my question i guess is, do you see that happening without the u.s. lifting the embargo and
having american companies go in there and do that? mr. kornbluh: the embargo covered the issue of u.s. citizens using credit cards in cuba. that is one of the things president obama changed. he created an exception -- >> it is really not practical to use them. mr. kornbluh: there is a relationship between the electronic internet grid and the transfer, electronically, of money through the use of credit cards. it is true, those things are symbiotic and cuba will have to have both of working. but now mastercard has said it wants to set up shop in cuba. andatm machines are there there are going to be more. and google, the head of google has gone to cuba and had officials have gone several times. cuba has just instituted these
new kind of wi-fi zones. have cut in half the price of using wi-fi in most of the hotels. they are trying to move in exactly the direction you are talking about. it is not going to happen overnight, but i think it is going to happen in short order. i will be surprised if two or three years from now all of the things you're talking about are not pretty normal in cuba. mr. leogrande: the other thing the president licensed in january was for u.s. telecommunications companies to begin to work with the cuban government to build out their digital interceptor. it is in the works. one, pope francis will be visiting cuba and immediately thereafter the united states. doesn't seem probable that there
invitation from raul castro to our president to visit cuba on that occasion? mr. kornbluh: i think your idea that the pope could become an emissary and carry messages from castor to obama is a good one. i hope they are watching c-span at the vatican. if you read our story and mother jones that came out today, and the paperback edition of our the way communications were between the pope and president obama and raul castro was a crazy thing. they used emissaries back and here, sent an advance man cargo from havana coming up here .
was a letter delivered to obama in the rose garden secretly from the pope. i'm hoping that is all behind us and that it will work a lot more simply. there will be hundreds of thousands of people hailing the pope in both cuba and the united states. the house a wonderful occasion to do something very powerful. the pope is going to get a lot of attention in cuba. he is going to say mass in the loss of the revolution during a big mental image of jake rivera -- a big metal image of che guevara. he is certainly going to raise the issue of human and religious rights. but then he is going to come to the united states and there will be a lot of press coverage, a lot of questions about his experience. cuba is going to be much in the news. this is all part of a visual side of a new normalcy in many
ways. cuba is not the poisoned fruit, the forbidden fruit anymore. it is going to be a much more normal situation. i think the pope's visit will advance the situation. mr. leogrande: there is no doubt that he will criticize the embargo. that has been the position of the last three popes. i would not be at all surprised if he used this injunction of this visit to cuba and the visit to the united states to sort of sume his activist role and press both presidents to move ahead. the issue of the church, i'm sure, and the issue of human rights will be his focus while he is in cuba.
i would guess the embargo would be his focus while he is in the united states. maybe not in public but in terms of what he has to say to the president. this is a pope who went to cuba in 1998 with pope john paul ii, about therote a book dialogue between pope john paul and fidel castro. he has had an interest in this issue for a very long time. he really has -- he is uniquely positioned to take it to the second stage. >> thank you. >> hello. second.ant a for the really illuminating and interesting discussion so far. i have two questions. me that cubaems to
is looking to china as an interesting economic model, whereas -- where there is somewhat of a mixed economy. as i read the headlines and the press, there is this implicit hope in president obama's argument that they will adopt a liberal, market-based democracy similar to the united states. cuba only adopts this in terms of economic reforms, how do you think this will play out in terms of the politics of renormalization between the two countries? and the second one is, you had not yet mentioned in terms of forward-looking. and even in the past the role of international organizations. banks, the u.n., what role has it played in the past and what role is there a potential to engage?
the international financial institutions, in particular, could play a very important role in this process of updating the cumin and economy -- the cuban economy. cuba had to- stabilize himself without any international support at all. the entire weight of that stabilization fell on ordinary cubans. it will require some green light from the united states for international financial institutions to engage with cuba. cuba withdrew from the world bank and the imf in 1960. of course its membership is no longer suspended but it is still .n active that raises? about how much the banking system would get involved.
cuba would have to rejoin the world bank and the imf. and the law requires the president to vote again to get membership. it is possible that the rest of stock would be in favor of cuban membership, but international corporations don't like to vote against the united states because congress may cut their appropriations and then they would be in trouble. we would like to see great openness in the cuban economy, it would make sense for them to be able to call on international financial institutions for technical assistance, and perhaps even some bridge funding . some infrastructure development. some food assistance. they get that from the united nations and it has been very important. i think these are all things that are in the process of being
worked through now that we are in this new stage. i know people are talking about what role these institutions might play. i know some have gone quietly to havana to see how open the role that is to a they might play. this is all very much a work in progress. mr. kornbluh: let me just say, there is a little anecdote from this history. it goes back to almost the beginning of this history when in april of 1963 fidel castro first raised the issue of how the united states and cuba were going to overcome the acrimonious history of the bay of pigs, the assassination plots, the missile crisis. he was negotiating with james to try to get the bay of pigs prisoners released and get cia operative who had been
arrested in cuba released, along with two dozen other american citizens who had been arrested. castro was meeting with him in 1963, and he raised the issue. castor said, how will we begin to normalize relations. can we use these successful prisoner exchanges and prisoner releases? how will we move forward? and james donovan said to him, mr. castro, do you know how porcupines make love? castro had to have this translated. spanish] no, i don't know how they do it. donovan said, very carefully. that is how you and the united states will go about normalizing relations.
that conversation took place in april of 1963. all these years later finally we have a situation where there is somewhat less caution. who hasa bold president less than a year and a half left in office. he knows that this is a big change. he is clearly dedicated to keeping this momentum going. cubans are very tough negotiators, but they too see it in their interest to move forward as fast as possible. and the international community, including the world bank and the idb want to seem as helpful as possible. all of the domestic and international stars are aligned to make this happen, with the exception of the fact that we are entering a political campaign season in which cuba policy will be a major political football. , and thehe situation
time for caution is over and the time for forceful diplomacy and leading is upon us. thank you. i can answer any other questions privately. >> thank you so much for being here. mr. kornbluh: thank you. [applause] >> the book is for sale in the lobby, and i think we will probably leave you on the stage. people can come back in if they wanted to sign it. thank you. [indiscernible] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ofwith that live coverage the u.s. house on c-span, and
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