tv Charlie Rose PBS November 29, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
>> welcome to the program, i'm jeffrey golberg filling in for charlry rose away on a insooment. we begin with a report from charlie on the browned in rose: i think it's a kind of modified sadness that there is a people understand that he has cast a huge food print not only in cuba but for someone who was simply the leader of a small caribbean nation, he had a global profile. and everybody understands that. he was in a sense the poster person for the revolutionary that i think influenced so many people in latin america, and who wanted to change their own country, whether in his image or in somebody else's image. but that image that he carefully created, i think, survived until the day he died, even though he was 90. >> we continue with my
conversation in washington with peter kornbluh, julia sweig and jorge dom ingvar easy. >> he is mainly a symbol as you put it of the 20th century. but the one pit of impact he continued to have is as a resistor. very much as you introduced him, as someone who did not look at all well upon president obama's visit to havana in march of 2016 who immediate loor after obama left criticized it in public, something he had really not done while his brother raul had been president. and he became the not only the symbol but the practical leader of the attempt to contain the possible impact of the obama policy change inside cuba.
>> we conclude with ben rhodes, deputy national security advisor. >> the degree to which we are per pit waiting the conflict with cuba, stirring the pot with cuba, fighting battles with cuba, that only supports hard-liners in cuba who reject any opening to the united states. what we said is we want to put the conflict in the past. we want to look forward that is in our interest. if we want to promote things like the empowerment of the cuban people, a better life for the cuban people, that is best served by not looking backwards but by looking forwards. >> all about cuba when we continue. >> funding for charlie rose is provided by the following: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by
rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> good evening, i'm jefer ree goldberg of the atlantic filling in for charlie rose who is in cuba on assignment. fidel castro died on friday, he was 90 years old. the cuban revolutionary lead the country for nearly half a century. he first came to o power in 1959 as a passionate guerilla leader who transformed the small island nation into the first and only communist state in the western hemisphere. to many it was his fixation on the united states that most defined the spirit of castro's rebellion. his defiance of american power in the region and around the world made him a powerful symbol of revolution. a fierce champion of cuban naltism, he remains a controversial figure, at once the love and feared and criticized. for hundreds of thousands of americans of cuban desent he was a symbol of tirn knee and oppression. president obama normalized relations relations had with cuba in december 2014, castro's dep
suspicion of the united states endured. his death now leaves an uncertain future for cuba and its relationship with america. we begin now with an update from charlie who is on the ground in cuba. charlie, good to see you. you don't look like are you on the ground, you look like are you up in the air. where are you and tell us what is going on in the street below you. >> rose: i think it's a kind of modified sadness. there is its people understand that he has cast a huge footprint not only in cuba but for someone who is simply the leader of a small caribbean nation, he had a global profile. and everybody understands that. he was in a sense the poster person for the revolutionary that i think influenced so many people in latin america, and who wanted to change their own country, whether in his image or in somebody else's image. but that image that he carefully created, i think, survived until the day he died, even though he was 90. and so they're sad about that,
many people. on the other hand there are many people who feel like he was a tyrant and feel like he was doing things that violated human rights. and things that showed no respect for political opposition. >> i want to get to your memories of fidel castro in a minute. but just talk to me for a moment about whether this death has more than symbolic-- for what you could pick up on the street or people are you talking about. does this herald possibly a new era of openness or what are you expecting? >> i think that comes after raul leaves power, in 2018. then will you have more of a sense of it with when both cat tro, i think he is resition ent, he is there for economic change,
but certainly not for political change. we have seen this come up in russia, we have seen this come up in china, this due allity between-- duality of having to choose are you going to emphasize economic change, modified capitollism or mixed economy or are you going to change the politics of the country as they did in russia. and so that decision has not been made. raul castro has made it clear that he's opposed to anything that would mean that the party would not be in control. so after he leaves power, i think you'll see more of a great reckoning as to where cuba will go. >> what is the most interesting thing you remember about fidel. >> rose: the thing that i'm struck by is that he carefully cult mated-- cultivated his image as a revlationary, he and ches rivera were the poster person for revolution. and here he is, you know, the head of a small nation, a
caribbean nation of-- started 6 million people when he took over, 11 million today, but he had a global reputation. he made himself into a global figure. he exported revolution to latin america. he was a hero to hugo chavez and others. and at the same time he was involved and sent cubans to africa to fight there, and sort of as he defined it, wars of liberation. so he had a huge global footprint for somebody, and friendship with russia. we can't forget that the bay of pigses with a big failure and what happened there. and then inviting the russians to put nuclear weapons in cuba, bringing about probably the closest confrontation we've ever had in the history of nuclear weapons, to a possible dramatic confrontation which took place between russia and the united states in 1962. >> charlie, one more thing, i am
wondering if people in cuba in havana right now know what's happening in miami. there have been demonstrations an even kinds of celebrations of fidel's death. i'm wondering if that is penetrating the consciousnesses of people in havana. >> my guess is it is. i haven't been out sampling a lot of cubans in terms of that kind of thing. but my guess is they do know. there is a sense of how miami has been inexorably connected to cuba since the revolution took place and all the people who went to miami. and in some cases who come back to cuba now that they have access to come back. a lot of them send money back as you know. so i'm sure they are aware of what is happening there. i know that some of them have probably seen the front page of the "miami herald" which they had that big picture of castro and it simply said "dead" across the top of the front page, an entire picture covered the entire front page. it has gotten some attention and
i think they probably know about that. and they know about dancing in the streets. i heard someone say today they saw someone dancing who they were surprised to see because it was the son of a friend. >> and of course the biggest question for you and in our business is do you think raul castro will ever give an interview to-- will he ever start opening up to the american media? >> well, you can't try any harder than i'm trying. >> keep at it, charlie, keep at it, thanks very much, charlie. >> rose: thank you for sitting in. >> you're welcome. joining me now from boston is jorge dom inguess, a-- dominquez, a professor of governor-- and-- coauthor of the hidden history of negotiations between washington and havana, also is julia-- julia weeing, a leading scholar on cuban american relations the author of inside the cuban revolution, fidel castro and the urban
underground and an cbs news analyst. i'm pleased to have them on this program. welcome to you all. jorge, i would like to start with you, if you don't mind. you know, when we first heard the news late friday, early saturday it struck me almost immediately that this might mark the end in a way of the 20th century. it has huge symbolic power, the death of fidel castro. but the question is does it have anything more than symbolic power at this point. does it mean much for the future of cuba. does it mean much for the future of u.s. cuban relations? >> so in some sense yes, it is the end of the 20th century. the end of the 20th century came a little too late. fidel had not had a roll in government since he went into the hospital ten years ago in 2006. but one way to think about his significants and why the symbol really is powerful and why he really did help shape many of
the events of the world whose inheritors we are, is just to you know, very quickly think about suppose he had died in a year ending in 2016-- not in 2016 but earlier. so in 1966 he was preparing ches rivera to go to start a revolution in bolliveia, and he was supporting revolutionaries across most of latin america. in 1976, he had just deployed tens of thousands of troops across the atlantic ocean on cuban ships, not on soviet ships to defeat a south african invasion. in 1986, he was the commander in chief of cuban armies and golan ethiopia that won the wars they went to fight. he had deployed cuban troops to another dozen countries all over the world. and he was beginning to break with gosh dhef whom-- gorbachev
who he thought was too much of a reformist. in 1996 he ordered the cuban air force to shoot down two unarmed planes over the straits of plor da and brought president bill clinton closest to declareing that the u.s. air force should bomb cuban airfield. so by the time he dies in 2016, all of that is in the pastment cuba is now a much less significant country. by the time he dies in 2016 fidzel is mainly a symbol, as you put it, of the 20th century. but the one bit of impact he continued to have is as a resistor, very much as you introduced him, as someone who did not look at all well upon president obama's visit to havana in march of 2016. who immediately after obama left
criticized it in public, something he had really not done while his brother raul had been president. and he became the not only the symbol but the practical leader of the attempt to contain the possible impact of the obama policy change inside cuba which has been an important thing in cuban politics and u.s. cuban relations during the course of 2016. >> that is very interesting. before we go to the issue of u.s. kieban relations i want to come back to the table and ask both of you, both of you who knew fidel castro very well, what jorge was doing is elaborating on the history of a person who punched way above his weight. whether you hated him or loved him, he was unignorable. my question for both of you is if you could explain the mystery of fidel castro's relevance, why
don't we start with you, julia. >> i don't think it's so mysterious other than to say from time to time in world history a figure come as long who is much larger than his or her status or country. and you know, he has. >> but cuba is a very small country. >> cuba is a very small country. he has been enormously ambitious. he took office, the revolution triumphed in 59y when he was 32, but he was in politics since his early 20st. so this is 70 years putting himself on to the political stage if cuba, doing it in a very high-risk way too. >> what was about it him made him want to insert himself into the course of world history, again punching way above his weight. >> i mean, i don't know that that is answerable. he was born like that. it was in his dna. he was very fixated also as a young child on the united states. the relationship with the united states for him was form tiff it
wasn't antagonistic. we have letters from him when he writes writes to fdr as a 12 year old, he was recruited-- . >> recruited to play baseball in the united states. he came here on his honeymoon. he campaigned in new york city and washington d.c. and tampa to raise money from cuban americans. >> was it a love hate relationship or was it a hate hate relationship? >> no, it wasn't a hate hate relationship. if was an effort to bring cuba out from under the thumb of the united states of america. he was insulted by how the united states had turned cuba into a playground for the rimp and famous. and a corporate stronghold, and cuba-- cubans themselves did not have their own independence, their own self-determination. he lead the revolution to make that happen and that's going to be i think his most significant legacy. that he took a regular sized caribbean island and made it a major player on the world stage far beyond its geographic size
and location. >> jorge, julia, real quickly. >> he also i think intuited had the insight early on that that antagonism itself would have some benefits, perhaps to cuba in a way, giving cuba more autonomous foreign policy, a greater place in the world am but also would help propel him. that if he had in 1995-- 1959 when he came and met with richard nixon accepted aid and kind of begun to be lured by the trappings of u.s. power, we have started to disappear. so the antagonism helped him. >> jorge, peter mentioned that, talk about the legacy of this man. there are a lot of cuban americans or a lot of other people who believed very much that his legacy, what he will be remembered for is tyranny and oppression, single party communist state that imprisoned and tortured and killed its enemies. how do you think the history will be written of this man?
i you very rarely see a subject who provoke such strong emotions as we've seen over the past couple of days. i'm wondering, how do you think will this be remembered not only in the cuban american history but when the histories of this relationship, the histories of the keushan american revolution are written. >> so i think your introduction put it well. and your question just now reaffirms it. this was a polarizing figure. for some he was a hero. for others he was a demon. that two-part assessment should make it into a good history book. in 1953 after he was captured. his first major attempt to overthrow the-- government. i have never seen the original but the edited transscript of his speech with words that have
o peered in a number of the obits, you can condemn me t does not matter to me, history will absolve me. in my own sense, i would not absolve him. i think that many of the deeds that he committed were needless acts of abuse of power, of human rights violations, of imprisoning people for, mostly in the 1960s for their crimes of opinion and association. and holding them in prison for very, very long times when none of that was really necessary to consolidate his power. >> do you think that history will absolve him of some of the crimes that he committed? >> no, i mean look at this, this say rorschach, if you are a pe sant in the countryside of cuba
and you are 85 years old today, and you have a daughter or a son who is the head of the ob/gyn clinic at the most important hospital in havana, this is not a demon, this is a person who changed you and your family's life. if you are somebody who lost, who had their property nationalized, their parents put in jail, who was on the dark side of that treatment of that major revolution that fidel represented, of course there is a far, far darker interpretation that doesn't absolve. it is never going to be only one thing, jeff. >> let me just break in for a second, and that is why the best thing that we could do for anyone who is viewing us is to true to keep 24 is complex and contradictory ideas in mind because they are both true. fid sel going have have multiple legacies t will be the experience that people had with
him, in cuba where you stand politically as you view the whole issue of socialism, revolution versus capitalism and the traditional definition of democracy. but one of that legacy is going to be the david versus gal eyate and the giant player, the guy who tood up to the power in the region. he really became a hero to a lot of latin america are americans alot of people in the third world. i want to be clear that even though people will think that his legacy is that he stood up to the united staith and defied the united states until the end, the declassified documents that bill and i were able to obtain for our book back chan toll cuba show that he wanted normalized relations with the united states going all the way back to august of 1961. >> our general understanding now is that he has not been happy with the normalization process that his brother has undertaken with barack obama. how do you explain that? >> it's hard to know because he was 89 years old when he wrote
that statement about president obama's visit. he may not, he didn't like what obama said. the cuban press kind of created a strawman saying obama said we should forget the past when he said we should put the past aside and move forward. fidel didn't want to forget the past. he is a historical figure, an historical legend and he wanted to hold on to the glory of the cuban revolution. >> this will sound awkward too. he also liked americans. i mean jorge and peter and i know that when he was in power and after, he played host to hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of americans. >> i should point out he played host to the two of us for a week in 20. >> julia and i went with the kennedy family john f kennedy who authorized the bay of pigs, almost obliterated cuba. >> are you arguing he wanted respect, recognition. >> he also if you look at his language over the decades, he always talked about reciprocity, about being treated as an equal. i think that he wanted to be
regarded as much larger than the size of the platform cuba had given him. >> i also need to point out that this is a man who in the cuban miss ill crisis asked khrushchev to launch the nuclear annihilation of the united states. >> what did he tell but that. >> in 2010 he told me he thought it was a bit too much. it was the greatest never mind moment in history. but never the less, this is a guy who brought the world closer to nuclear apocalypse by demanding of khrushchev he nuked the united states. you could say he liked the united states. >> no, i said he liked americans. >> well, he would kill americans in the course of nuking the united states. >> complex. >> that is complex, but go on. >> let me be the purest historian and say fidel's letter to khrushchev was if cuba was attacked by the united states, that would be a prelewd to a u.s. nuclear a tok on the soviets and they should fire first, that is what he said. >> never the less, khrushchev did the rit thing by by not launching a nuclear attack.
>> ta does not neglect ate the classified history that we have in which he sent secret messages to almost every single president of the united states from kennedy all the way through to obama at the beginning of their term saying we would like to have better relations. we want those relations on the basis of mutual respect and respect for our independence and sovereignty. he did that, after two important reasons. one is he was a realist and he knew that cuba would be better off not living under the threat of u.s. aggression forever. and even though he used that politically, i think he felt that he didn't want to have his country treated that way. and secondly he wanted val daition of the revolution to have peaceful coexitionence with its arch-enemies. >> let me turn for this question, because it is our understanding, i think, our general understanding that fidel needed the american embargo. he needed to have america as an enemy in order to shore up the revolution. is that a fair or is that an unfair interpretation of what he was doing all these years.
>> so i think that in the complexity of this man, he did in fact thrive with the u.s. opposition. this is a president of cuba who translated the act that tried to consolidate the embargo into spanish, had it read over radio and television because in fact it was so scary for ordinary cubans who feared they would be evicted from their homes that it was helpful to fidel to have this kind of u.s. law even though every president of the united stays since that time clinton, bush and obama had the authority under the law which they exercised to cancel it. so he did benefit from this really almost incredibly stupid for a long time, behavior on the part of the united states it helped him politically at home. but i did want to pull out a
thread of part of what peter was saying about fidel's interest in let's call it problem solving with the united states. and much more modest word. and one element of fidel's problem solving could be pertinent for the trump presidency. trump would probably have no better ally in his policy toward migration than the cuban government. and that is thankses to the agreement that cuba and the united states reached in 1994/1995 whereby the cuban government unlike governments in other places tries to make sure that no one steals a boat from the cuban harbor and sales on the straits of florida. that when the u.s. coast guard picks them up in the straits of florida, that coast guard cutter sails back into the cuban harbor and st well-received. there is a coast guard commander
permanently posted in havana to coordinate how the two governments try to prevent this illegal migration. cuban officials at airports do not let cubans leave unless they have a visa to the country that they are bound to visit. if you are donald trump, looking for an example of admiral behavior with regard to migration relations as the united states, look to havana. >> this is a novel argument that i'm not sure the trump people are going to completely buy. i want to get to trump in a second but let's talk about president obama for a moment. the overarching question is is this, does the obama opening to cuba prestage the death or the disillusion of single party communist rule on the island or has it acquiesced to single party communist rule. you hear in washington both arguments that he's actually inadvertently strengthened raul
castro and that made it possible for cuba to remain a closed society. you want to take that question in turn. >> when obama went to cuba in march he gave a speech at the grand theater, raul castro is sitting in front of him in the balcony and he looked right at him. he said you know, what we've been trying to do in cuba for over 55 years wasn't working, didn't work. and he came to the conclusion that all this effort took pressure to try and get cuba to implode, roll back the revolution didn't help anybody's interests. certainly not the cuban people's interests and certainly not u.s. interest in the region ang towards cuba itself. and he said we think engage sment a better course. >> is this regime change by other language by. >> some people in the cuban government interpreted it that way but i don't think so. but we do know from the secret talks that you can ask ben rhodes about this, that the u.s. negotiating team when meeting with the cuban team during the secret talks to arrive at this
point of improving relations did say we're going to move forward with normalizing relations and changing our policy. we think that eventually this will have an impact on your society, economicically, culturally and politically, eventually. but that's not our goal necessarily. our goal is to have normal civil relations because it's in everybody's best interest. >> cuba has started to change before the obama initiative. and if you go back to sort of 2010 when we were there, coming forward, the prolive raise of access to cell phones, to internet, the use of social media, the expansion of wi-fi all which were our perspective is quite limited is becoming more and more widespread. >> still very limited. >> but go and find a cuban that doesn't have a cell phone right now. i mean really it has jurched up massively. but in addition to the internet social media telephone issue, we have half a million people in
cuba off the state payroll who have opened up small businesses, who are accumulating capital, who are involved in pursuing market capitalism. we have the demographics of cuba changing quite radically. i mean in a problematic way for raul castro what he needs to do is keep young people with their wonderful education on the island. but we have cubans traveling back and forth on the island an off the island. we have access that didn't previously exist to americans who were visiting there and cubans leaving and coming here. we have a more open society and jorge might disagree with this or maybe not. i have been traveling to cuba for 30 years trk is a more open society in terms of speech and expression than in the last 30 years. and that in exorably, i believe, is going to lead to political changes, already moving towards social change but the idea of a single party and this is your initial question, jeff, that dates back pre1959.
and that goes to how does the cuban nationalism narrative relate to what comes out of washington. >> let me ask jorge this question. let me frame it this way. do you think in five or ten years if the openness continues and again i will get to the trump question in a moment, but if the openness continues, does single party communist-- single communist party rule, does that continue or will it be inundated? in other words, will the cruiseships that are coming do more to undermine the castro vision of revolution than the bay of pigs invaders ever could have imagined? >> so fidel castro was a very smart man who really did have his pulse on the people of cuba. and he understood the obama of -- in march very well. the reason why he was worried, the reason he criticized the obama visit, the reason he made it sure that the cuban press began to convey a very different
image is that obama did a terrible job. it was-- a terrific job, it was a wonderful speech, very well delivered. the management of the visit in its totality was impressive. and all of a sudden, the last prop that might justify authoritarian practices, the permanent and relentless hostility of the united states might be gone. i think he understood that well. and i think he wanted to keep reminding cubans and find every means to have cubans reminded that the enemy was still there. and whether the enemy is or is not donald trump, i don't know but that is the next topic. >> one final question for you all, and this is a donald trump question, he just tweeted today f cuba is unwilling to make a debtor deal for the cuban people, the cuban american people in the u.s. as a wholek i
will terminate the deal. its he not entirely clear to me what deal he is talking about, but what can, and if you each can answer this question briefly, it would be great. what can donald trump do once he becomes president to reverse what president obama and raul castro together tried to do. we'll go better, julia. >> he could easily rescind the executive orders. he could terminate the open travel. he could close the portals of the commerce between the united states and cuba that obama has opened up. and worst of all, he can use his bully pull bit-- bull pit of the presidency, will be the most bullyist of all presidents, it's clear to pressure the cubans rhetorically. and the keushans will react extremly negatively. if there is one thing, the whole history of relations with cubans have shown, with all these 11 presidents that fidel almost outlasted is that cuba doesn't respond to bullying, demands and
doesn't make concessions. so the kind of progress that has been made under obama i think is under a dire threat at this point. >> julia, how powerful is donald trump to reverse the course that obama has set. >> peter laid it all out. but i will say that i find donald trump's opening in his rhetoric to be confusing. this is a business guy, he's a hotel guy. he is a capitalist. and he will reawaken the hard line opposition inside of cuba, represented by fidel to this opening by continuing this aggressive talk. i have to wait and see, frankly. because i think he's going to comend some pressure come january when he takes office to take a look at all of the commercial ties that are beginning to go into cuba from the united states, and see if perhaps he maybe he ought to. >> so jorge, are we looking at a
donald trump presidency in which the u.s. is confronting cuba or are we looking at a presidency in which the president of the united states is building golf courses in guantanamo bay, where do you think we're heading? >> the-- so i do not know if i knew i assure you i would be a very happy camper. >> you would be buying land. >> follow the thought one-- you know what could the president of the united states, donald trump do by executive authority. costop the agricultural exports from the united states to cuba, over 5 billion authorized by george bush in this century. they all come from republican states in the midwest. he could authorize stopping collaboration with cuban security forces to prevented drug trafficking through cuban air and sea space and facilitate drug traffickers entering the united states in that way.
he could stop u.s. cuban military collaboration in the per imter of the u.s. base in guantanamo and make it easier for prisoners in guantanamo to flee into cuba. he could stop the migration agreement that lasted clinton, bush and obama and therefore stop cuba from enforcing the trump preferred u.s. migration policy. and instead welcome undocumented my grants to the united states. there's a lot of the president of the united states can do. i don't think president trump will do any of that. and i think therefore there is a pretty solid rock under girding u.s. cuban relations no matter what the rhetoric says. >> thank you very much to all three of you, fascinating conversation. thank you. >> thanks very much, great to be here. >> thank you. >> we continue our coverage of fidel castro and cuba with ben
rhodes deputy national security advisor for strategic communications. ben, thank you for being on the show. fidel castro is about to be sent off to his final fairwell who is going to be represented the united states at this funeral and prosession? >> well, jeff, we're not into spinning a large presidential delegation, fidel castro is not head of state and of course is an extraordinarily controversial figure for the united states. we do have an embassy functioning in havana now and we have a very capable charge there, he will certainly be representing us at the memorial service that is going to be attend. >> will you be heading down. >> i'm not planning to. right now jeff is the lead, will be representing us that is part of having an embassy, you send your charl. >> why didn't president o, are you the architect of the opening to cuba. you have insight into every corner of this, why didn't president obama see fidel castro
when you made your historic trip. was that castro's choice, an american choice, was that his brother telling you best not to poke that bear, what was that? >> well, a couple of things. first of all raul castro is the head of state, president of cuba, that is who we reached agreements with. that is who he was going to see as part of protocol. part of this was just trying to normalize this relationship, normalizing relations is dealing with your counterparts, that was ra cool-- raul castro. fidel castro we know raises extraordinary difficult emotions among cuban americans, many of whom suffered personally because of the policies that fidel castro pursued. we put cuban americans at the center of our policy. raul castro is not without controversy in that community but it's nowhere near the degree of emotion sparked by fidel. >> let me ask you about this. because the president issued as soon as we heard of fidel castro's death, president issued a statement that is remarkably-- considering we are talking about a person who once
asked cheush-- khrushchev to nuke the united states and been in communication with the united states for some. we know this moment fills cubans in cuba and united states with emotions-- fidel castro altered individual lives, families and the cuban nation. remarkably neutral language and you have taken some heat for that neutral language. and yet you just talked about the fact that many, many cubans including and especially cuban americans suffered under this man's dik tay tor yal rule. so tell me about the thinking about this statement and tell me about how do you respond to the criticism that you were not acknowledging the crimes of fidel castro and standing in solidarity with cuban americans who suffered under his rule. >> everything we've done, jeff, has been about trying to put the past in the past. to the degree to which we are per pet waiting the conflict, stirring the pot, fighting battles with cuba, that only supports hard-liners in cuba who
reject any opening to the united states. what we've said is we want to put the conflict in the past. we want to look forward that is in our interest. if he with want to promote things like the empowerment of the cuban people, a better life for the cuban people, that is best served by not looking backward you by by looking forwards it would play into the wrong hands to shadow boxing history in a statement from the sitting president of the united states on the occasion of his death. >> your theory is fidel castro would have wanted a condemn that tore statement from an american president. >> he of course thrived on conflict with the united states. even after president obama was down in cuba, gaifer a robust speech including a des fence of our values and what we care about, fidel castro criticized president obama's trip down. there he has not been we are effectually aligned with his brother and view of normal sphwhraition. >> never the less, do you understand why cuban americans might look at that statement and said you really could have said more about our own personal suffering. how could that have ruined the budding rip between the two countries. >> because we've been very
disciplined about not falling too a trap where we are arguing about history with the cubans, that san argument that has no end. and will have no end. and it only serves those in cuba who want to take a harder line with the united states. i spent a lot of time with cuban americans. have i been to miami, consulted them in every step of this process including people who have been critical and supportive. they understand our approach which is to try to create as many openings as possible for commerce, travel, people to people engage nment cuba including for cuban americans who by the way are the ones that because we lifted the cap, are able to send money down to cuba that has now seen money for small businesses and soaf employed cubans. >> many cuban american elected officials including marco rubio and others have criticized the general approach to the general obama administration approach to the cuban question saying that you're not taking too account human rights violationsk present and past. how do you respond to that clarg. >> what does their approach get us. what did their approach get us for decades. we were et going no where.
it is not as if the cuban government was just about to collapse because of the embargo. we were isolated because of the embargo, from the cube an people and the rest of the world. and if you look at the progress we made in just two years in terms of the increase in the cubans who are now self-employed, the increase in american businesses down there, the increase in american travel down there, all this is. >> have you seen any actual political openings. you have seen greater freedom of speech, greater access to the internet, greater freedom of assembly. what you have seen and what have you not seen. >> i'm a democrat who is saying that the empowerment that i have seen is the number of cubans who are self-employed, who control their own livelihood went from roughly 10% to almost a third under this administration. those are people who now control the bread that they put on their table. there is an increase in internet access. and there is an increase in travel to cuba and that is bringing new ideas and new connectivity to the rest of the world. slutly there are huge human right concerns in cuba. i would argue and i would argue to my republican friends that there is empowerment that comes
from economic liberty and economic interconnectivity with the rest of the world, and turning that off only hurts the cuban people. >> let me ask you this, because you are the american official probably in a couple of generations who knows the cuban system the best at this point. you spent endless hours in negotiations with the keushan government over the past years. is it true that are all castro was in effect waiting for his brother to pass the scene before he embarks on greater openness? in other words, was a living fidel castro as a sort of specter over his brother something that was holding back what you would consider to be progress or did fidel kind of fade as a factor in his last years? >> well, here is what we know. after raul castro came to power, cubans were permitted to travel off the island. there was a liberalization, incremental of their economy and there was an agreement to
establish diplomatic relations with the united states. these are all dramatic reforms in the cuban context even if they seem incremental to us. what we also know is fid e8 was the leading sceptic of normalization with the united states. he said it himself including editorials after the president's travel. >> do you think there is actually a huge difference or a large difference between fidel and his younger brother. >> i don't want to overstate it because they are castros, they are brothers. they surely agree about more than i would agree with raul castro about however there is no question that raul castro has taken a very pragmatic approach to certain issues. there are bigger reforms they need to do. like allowing foreign firms to hire cubans, like union fying their currency, thins that would make a big difference in the lives of ordinary cubans. what we also know is this 9 beginning of a leadership transmission cuba. raul said he would step aside next year. we should be doing whatever we can to empower the elements of reform inside of cuba and opening is going to do that. if we shut the door right now, all it does is incentivize those
who want to turn back the clock. >> it this sounds like a conversation we had with iran, another country that president obama tried with less success to open for america in a kind of way. but you did get the nuclear-- nuclear deal. there is a discourse around iran that says there are moderates and there are hard-liners. we should align with the moderates. we should help them. one of the ways you help them is not by provoking the hard-liners. is that the model that you are using in cuba? and we haven't seen that work in iran yet. so what makes you think that we can see that kind of change in cuba? >> well, the way i describe this is there are three countries have i worked on that have this three degrees of change. myanmar there is a decision by the government to change their political model. >> some people know as burma. >> they had democratic elections, aung saning sue chee is the leader of that government, that is a huge change. in cuba the government decided to change their relationship with us. they decided to establish
diplomatic relations even with the embargo. in iran the government never took that decision. they made a decision to have a nubbing clear deal. those are three different types of change n burma full scale political change. in cuba, the deliberate change of establishing relations with us, and iran it was restricted purely to the nuclear deal. in all that we do in these countries, do i believe our engagement has to seek 20 support those who are promoting reform. and those promoting greater connectivity to us and the rest of the world fsm we pull back, we know what will happen. we know that there are hard-liners in these countries who thrive from having a per pet all conflict with the united states. >> let me ask you a question, using a couple of other countries as analogs to this. vietnam and china. fully capitalist societies in many ways that remain under single party communist rule. did you anticipate cuba going that route where show the autonomy will open pu the party will maintain absolute control over speech, over politics, over the press s that something that
you anticipate, or do you think that there is some fundamental difference between what is happened in vietnam and china and what might happen in cuba? >> well look, the cuban government with certainly like to promote a mods el opening up their economy and having a restrictive political system. >> you haven't seen anything, none of these guys have come up to you in the hallway and said we would like to have private ownership of newspapers. >> no, and they have very upfront about that we are upfront about china is a country of 1.3 billion on the other side of the world. cuba is a relatively small country 90 miles from florida with an enormously successful community right there in florida that is waiting to support cuban and private enterprise and support values like freedom of express. i frankly think to compare china to cuba you know, is beyonds apples and oranges, it is 1.3 billion people to just over 10 million people. >> far away, 90 miles from florida. the other thing i would say, some of the same people who draw the compare sob to criticize our
policy don't seem to have any problem with the fact we have an em bas dor in china. we have trade with china it is only cuba that is a country that people say we should have no diplomatic relations, no trade, no commerce. by the way, telling americans they can't even travel somewhere they want to go we wouldn't tell americans are you not allowed to travel to china because st still a one party state. how can we tell americans you can't even get on a flight and travel to a country you want to go to. >> to put it bluntly, carnival cruiseships, ultimately the agent of regime change s that what you are talking about? i mean do you want to see regime change in cuba brought about through openness, a kind of tsunami of openness that the cuban government can't withstand? >> i will be clear, our policy is not to oppose regime change on cuba. and that's not simply a talking point. i believe that the cubans should decide who they want to lead. the problem that the united states has gotten into in the past is we want to dictate from
here who runs cuba am frankly we should be honest about the fact we have a pretty bad history in that regard. we wrote a institution that allowed us to yoarch throw the government whenever we chose to. that was wrong. and today we don't support ocess of democracy in cuba, the human rights in cuba. if we appear to want to inflict regime change on them. what do i believe? that as more cruise lines and airlines are going down there and more cuban americans going down there, there will be an exchange of ideas and resources and ultimately the cuban people will be in a better decision to make decisions about their own future with that connectivity with the rest of the world. >> again, are you the greatest expert in the u.s. government on internal cuban system. how far do you think the intelligence community in cuba, the intelligence will do to try to seal off cubans from their cuban american cousins who are coming over with not only material products but with ideas am i mean how do you-- how strongly are they going to
respond to that? >> they will try. an here's what they are looking at. on the one hand they want to maintain control. they want to maintain control of the politics, and economy of the country. on the other hand, they need revenue and the only way in which they will get revenue to sustain that system at all is through an opening to the united states and the rest -68d world, by the way. i believe ultimately the incentives for change lead raul castro to take the steps he has already taken. in some ways he has already begun down a road, a path where their revenue model depends upon international engagement, international travel. and that ultimately is going to be a magnet for them to make needed reforms starting in the economy, but economic reforms, breed interconnectivity, breed inter234e9 access, breed access to new ideas from people traveling there. and i believe over time it will put the cuban people in a position to determine. >> ten years from now any chance the communist partied has been subsumed and
reessential-- resembles a multipartied democracy with a free market system. any chance of that? >> i don't know. >> is that what president obama want sms. >> look, we would want multiparty democracy in any country. eory of u.s. possee that says we wait and squeeze. and we just hope that that will bring about change. i think that we tested that and if failed. i believe we're better positioned to influence the direction that cuba takes takese are engaged and there on the ground. if we wait and squeeze it is much easier for people to hermetically squeeze the country off. >> when you did engage you didn't extract from the cuban gvernment promises on human rights. you didn't extract a lot of people from jails, i don't know if you extracted anybody from jails. what did you get in terms of human rights from the cuban government in response to your offer to reopen diplomatic relations. >> first of all very concretely they released 53 people from prison. they allowed a number of high profill political prisoners to travel than tha hadn't been a you lad to travel that is 53
people that wouldn't have gotten out of prison otherwise. they have increased internet connectsivity and agreed to establish diplomatic relations with us. they agreed to this process of normalization where we have agencies on the grounds working with them, businesses like cisco that has a tech academy down there. we have cuban cancer vaccine and criminal trial in the united states. all of these things are good for peevment i believe that ultimately this step they have taken towards normalization with us, towards opening to the rest of the world is going to be beneficial for human rights in the long run. and ultimately this say long game. sitting back and squeezing is not going to achieve our objectives. but commerce, the free throw of people, free flow of information, that sult matily going to be empowering. >> so i have two statements in front of me, one is the statement by president obama on the death of fidel castro and the other is by the president-elect donald trump on the death of fidel castro. no one would confuse one for the other. president-elect trump stated
quote the world marks the passing of a bruteddal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. his legacy someone of firing squads, death, unimaginable suffering, poverty and denial of fundamental human rights. just today he tweeted, he has been on a tweet storm anyway, he created that unless we can strengthen the deal and he doesn't define exactly what the deal is, that he is going to revisit the deal. he has spoken harshly about the policies of the obama administration on cuba. what can he do, i mean you are inside the white house. you understand how these things work. what can he do to reverse course and what are you doing right now, what is your president doing right now to make sure that he can't reverse course. because i assume that this is a-- you consider this to be a signature foreign policy achievement and you don't want to see it undone on january 21s. >> well, first of all, as an executive dempleation who established dramatic relations, and to have cooperation with cuba. >> donald trump could break relations with cuba. >> he could. any president any time could
decide to break relations with another country. the opening on travel, commerce, those are regulatory changes. it took a long time for us to write those regular laces. by the way they are not written by the white house. they are written by officials in the treasury department, exers department, state department, that is a much more time consuming process. we are trying to demonstrate the value of the presidentsee. having an embassy puts us a stronger position to advocate for human rights than not having one. closing down an embassy we believe would hurt american interests. americans are traveling, today the first direct flight to havana. telling americans who bought tickets to fly to cuba that their travel is cancelled doesn't strike me as a good idea. there are businesses that have begun to operate in cuba, american businesses. terminating that business would not be in our interest. there say clinical trial for a cancer vaccine with a drug taking place in new york state, terminating a trial on a cancer vaccine doesn't strike me as a good idea. what we are trying to show is there are benefits to the united states and the cube an people
from this opening. we believe we can demonstrate that. the last thing, doesn't get a lot of attention, this has transformed the standing of united states in latin america much reef summit before all we got shall we heards from our friends in latin america this made it harder for them. we heard from our enemies, harangues about u.s. policy. we have elevated american's standing region in ways i think have never been the case before thrarks is concrete result like the colombia peace deal negotiated in havana, to turn off the cuba opening is to turn off relations with the entire region. >> do you think trump will try to turn them offness i would hope not. i don't know, but do i know. >> what do you think of his statement. >> i think it sounds like a fairly traditional statement. look, we don't disagree that fidel castro is responsible for all manner of violations of human rights. we just did not think that as a sitting president of the united states it was the right thing to
revisit those conflicts. we're here to look forward that has always been our message to the cuban people. >> what have the cubans asked you about donald trump. >> like a lot of foreign countries this he are uncertain and they don't know what the course of action that the new administration is going toic ta. what we say, the same thing the president said throughout his trip which is it is a new team, wait and see, wait and see who his appointments are, who his moves are. because he said a variety of different things about cuba over the course of the campaign. >> ben rhodes, thank you very much for joining us. >> thanks, swref. >> for more about this program and earlier episodes visit us online at pbs.org and charlie rose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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