tv Inside Story Al Jazeera May 8, 2015 5:30am-6:01am EDT
turns out knitting together two countries long separated by cold war is not as easy as calling a news conference. during a half century of economic estrangement between the u.s. and cuba a lot of issues piled up. there are glimmers of light, the door is only open halfway, and it may take a while before we reach a cuban resolution.
it? that's tonight's "inside story". welcome to "inside story", i'm ray suarez. last year the united states and cuba announced the two governments would begin the process of reopening relations shut down half a century ago. there has been delegations to havana and washington, long negotiations on pending issues, and a very slow thaw. currently there's no american embassy or ambassador in havana, or a cuban ambassador in washington. more americans are making their way to cuba, even with the embargo in space, and on the streets of havana, anticipation and speculation about the future are rising. >> reporter: time seems to move
slower in cuba, shielded from its giant neighbour by the half senturery-long u.s. embargo, and a centralized government only allowing change when it thought the time was right. now change is the main topic of conversation. raising hopes, expectations and fears. there are negotiations on a number of reaches that are important for both countries. that is the way of building blocks to build trust. which is one of the most important things of the last 50 years that has been lost with washington and havana talking, everyone has opinions on renewing ties between the countries, nowadays they are not afraid to express them the most important thing is to lift the blockade. that is fundamental and caused our people the most damage. >> the united states must establish relations with cuba to reach an agreement and respect one another.
>> reporter: what i'd like to see is better human rights, social justice and freedom. of speech, that's what cubans want. >> it's been 50 years, we'll wait and see what happened. >> reporter: with the united states close, and the cuban exile community so vocal, cubans feel they know the u.s. if this rekindled prospers prospers, they'll get to know them better. fidel castro and his brother with raul made a virtue out of adversity. >> i think raul castro emphasised that he wants a stillized relationship with the united states, that he wants people to learn the art of lying with differences. >> they have accepted that the united states has some legitimate interests that shouldn't be challenged. more than 50 years of animosity and the resentment that breeds will not be eliminated over night.
there's a cautious optimism, a tangible expectation on the streets of cuba al jazeera's lucia newman joins me from havana. here in washington we hear about technical negotiation, complicated issues that remain. give us an idea of what they are. what is turning out to be complicated about reopening channels? >> you'll find that it's a lot more complicated than anyone could imagine to reopen channels closed for so long. let's say they are politically and bureaucratically rusty to open the doors. while the obama administration showed a willingness to ease up on restrictions, there's stumbling blocks. the bureaucracy in the united states is one. there's a lot of distrust on the cuban end, they are not sure how
quickly to open the doors to allow reforms to take place. it is slowing things down. they are moving slowly but in the right direction. >> i'm interested in the idea that they are not sure how quickly to move. has the possibility of a relationship with the united states changed what party leaders are saying, what young leaders in cuba are talking about in the future? >> well, just as in the united states there's not a consensus on whether this is a good idea or not, or how quickly relations with the united states and cuba should change, the same thing is true here. certainly the younger generation should see this, and want to see it forward. some people are questioning in this country the motives of the united states, whether they will try to move no or try to run the show as it did historically in this country.
so that is certainly a reason why there is not a consensus even here in cuba, we are seeing na president raul castro is committed to the changes, but there is no concrete timetable. this week it was announced that the united states would allow ferries to come from florida to the united states into cuba. it hasn't been announced as a big breakthrough in this country. people are wondering what will come in on the ferries. does that mean the united states will send in thousands without permission. lots of regulations. they are not sure how they'll manage all this. >> the cubans wanted to get off the state sponsor's terror list, be allowed back into latin american meetings, they got those things. how come there's not a more developing trust that the united goodwill. >> it's history, it's a long
history going back to the spanish american war, and the fact that the guantanamo navel base is occupied by the united states. cuba sees that as an injury, a wound in its heart. that's how they describe it. this is a treaty signed more than 100 years ago. and it doesn't allow or almost 100 years ago. it doesn't allow the kooubons to tell the united states to leave. it has to be by mutual accord. that, and other reasons the political differences that exist between the united states and cuba - one is a communist country. the united states made it clear it does not agree or condone the system. it's a country 90 miles away from florida, the united states has a long history of intervention. we have not seen a lot of that. cubans may see sa good reason to
wonder if that same type of intervention may not occur again lucyianewman in havana. great to have you with us. a majority of americans and floridians approve of opening ties with cuba, bet some politicians are steadfast not to open relations with raul castro. there are limits to what the obama administration can do on its open without congress, in re-establishing the free flow of communications, capital and people, 90 miles across the strait. let's go back to havana. pedro joins us, he's chair of international practice. and is an american citizen born in havana, welcome to "inside story". . >> nice to be here. >> now, this - is this a
situation where it's no longer able to do what it wants to do, a lot of movement is coming from the american side of the table. >> i think as lucia was saying, president obama showed the willingness and has tape the risk of starting the dialogue. raul castro moved on this side of the strait, taking internal political risk in staking his legacy, if you will, on being the cuban leader that restored relations with the u.s. after 50 years of conflict. i think there's movement on both sides. >> the opening of eastern europe is a pretty fresh memory. lots of people went to pollen, general public. this must not be lost on the
cuban communist party. are they worried about american claims to land, factories? >> i think there's two types of fundamental claims when you think about claims. one of the claims that you describe - these are protected under u.s. law upped the foreign claims act. they are registered in the federal registry. they have been adjudicated, tallied up, and the state department has a process called espausal, where they present the claims. there's an ongoing conversation. cubans countered with $100 billion in damages caused by the embargo. there'll be horse trading going on. the second category of claims that is significant, potentially, is by people like me, cuban americans that when the ex-propriations happened, we are not american citizens and
not covered by u.s. law. the remedy is to come to the cuban government and try for a political deal. that cuban americans come back, cut a deal. a factory or sugar mill. they would reinvest. capitalize it. forward. >> pedro, is it in the power of talks? >> well, i think that we are in a particularly fragile moment. we are one significant incident away from having this come to a stop. everything in the u.s. side - it's possible that there's support in the high levels of government. could something happen, of course, something could happen at any time.
it's the climate of distrust. overcoming 50 years of distrust doesn't happen overnight. there a confidence building process. more importantly, it's possible that there's a sense of hope that now that the americanos are coming back, things will get better. >> thank you for joining us. some americans travelled to cuba and have a deep connection to the country, when we return, an actress with tied to the arts community, and a cuban american scholar, listening to cuban's hopes and fears. they'll join the conversation next, on "inside story". >> compass with sheila macvicar >> compass will challenge
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>>they had some dynamic fire behavior... >> and what we do... don't try this at home! >> tech know where technology meets humanity... only on al jazeera america welcome back to "inside story". in many ways, the long u.s. embargo has made the 90 miles between florida and havana seem further. most people couldn't get on a jet and head to cuba because of a travel ban, but two exceptions were academics and artists. daphne reed is an activist travelling for years, and silvia, a professor of sociology and american culture at the university of mish gan. thank you for being with us. daphne reed, you were a privileged american that could go down and visit the island. why was it interesting for you to go. why did you want to go. what did you expect to find, and
what did you find? >> i was really excited about going because of the afro cuban culture. i was interested in exploring that. their architecture, architectural student, and the culture and the art were vibrant, is what i saw. i wanted to go down and make sure the people were as vibrant as the art coming out of cuba. what did you find, a culture locked like a fly-in amber. self-reference shall. one that was modern and developing, but still cuban. cubans were historically based. they understand their culture, honour their tradition, and their art reflect traditions this have been part of cuba since africans came there, since all of the other countries
merged there in cuba to start the culture. it's exciting to see that they keep the references in the modern art. historical art, as well as in the modern art. they keep the references to the mother land of africa for the afro cubans. i was studying mostly afro cubans you lived on the island since you were 12, you been back many times since to do research and interviews. let's talk about contemporary cubans. do we exaggerate isolations. the country has been open to latin america and europe for many years. >> well, that's true. it has not been opened very much to the united states, and that is a major historical reference, also for cubans, as well as the cuban american community that lives mostly in the united states, although in many countries now. that is a new opening, and cubans have placed a lot of hope in the new opening
so in the post revolutionary years, the historic tie to the united states didn't simply shift on to other countries. havana had a great friend in moscow for many years, cubans went to the soviet union to study. many spoke russian, how come they didn't simply make a bunch of new friends in the world? >> i think kooub sea did, and a lot of cubans learnt a great deal from experiences. for example in eastern europe and russia. many at that time, young people that i interviewed, were there at the time. they put their hopes in similar - that similar changes would take place in cuba, and a gradual democratic transformation would take place, and they learnt those things in russia and eastern europe. >> were people curious about americans, what they think of
revolution? >> yes, they were a little curious about what we thought of it. they wanted to show their best and strongest side of the history. they wanted to agrees upon us their pride. they consider themselves cuban before any other race determination there. and they wanted to show us that they were self-sufficient, each though they were socialist. they had self-sufficiency ideas, with the opening of cuba now, they are getting more into learning how to do things for themselves. rather than relying on the state to get things done when i have been on reporting trips to cuba, professor, i found the dogged pride in self sufficiency and so on. i wonder if it changed since the fall of the soviet union, since the emergency period or the
special period during which it became strong on the island. very much so. i think during the special period, particularly when cubans learned to do a little like having the ingenuity to make ends met, and make it through a difficult situation that sometimes involved a great deal of suffering, and to come out ahead on the other side. it's something they are proud of. rightly so. >> it may not be long before americans travel more frequently to cuba. >> i hope. >> what will the influx of tourists mean for the island. we'll discuss it next on inside
story. welcome back to "inside story" on al jazeera america. it may be a while before the cuban embargo is lifted, but americans are open up to visit. the country has been open to latin americans for years, but will there be something different about the influx of americans, making a day trip by miami, or climbing aboard a ferry. silvia and daphne are with us. is there some consternation, worry about the cultural side of an onslaught from the north. >> i haven't asked them that. my next trip in two ekes, i'll ask some of those things. i don't know that they are scared of it. i think they are really anxious to show what they have been able to do, and how they've been able to survive over these 50 years
of embargo. the arts have been sort of soft warfare for a long time. there has been fight over cuban bans. struggles over when americans travel to cuba to be a part of the cultural change. maybe that will calm do and be less remarkable for people like north. >> i hope so. we tries to get a young jazz band up to the film festival, and we couldn't get them out of the country. because they were young, they would stay in the united states and not come back. the opening of the borders will show the americans how much influence they really had on cuba, especially in music,
because their jazz scene is very, very american. the young people have embraced jazz from the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s, and taking it to the next level. it's exciting to watch and listen to. as much as there's anticipation, was there anxiety to be expected, from the average cuban on the street. >> i don't know, i haven't felt there is anxiety. i think they are welcoming the changes taking place. close to half of the cuban population has family somewhere else, particularly the united states, and the cultural influences have really never seized. the soviet union gave cuba a great deal of economic and political support for over 30 years, but the cultural influence of the soviet union was minimal. cubans don't eat russian food or sing russian songs, and on a
country they love american music, films, right now people manage to watch in cuba c.s.i. and other television programs that they like. and they tell me they love the american musicals. there is a memory, there's a cultural affinity, that they are not afraid of that. they may be afraid of other spects, but that one i don't believe that they are afraid of. >> on this side of the it straits of florida, is there an idea that cubans cling to the revolution, have less affection than they do when you talk to itself. >> in my experience cubans are proud of the two good things that the revolution did, which was extending the public health services and educational systems, to all levels of cuban society.
that is about it. they are not proud of the political system. they'd like to see the return of democracy. they'd like to see the return of free fellow of ideas, commerce and travel. you know, it's a mixed bag. >> right now those ferry companies are lining up to shuttle people from key west. yourself? >> i - before i tell you that, i will tell you that i had an aunt who was older, lived in the united states, and was part of the generation that was afraid of airplanes, she used to come to cuba on a ferry, and we'd meter every couple of years at the dock so she'd spend a couple of months with us and go back to washington d.c. i think i have become a lot like my old aunt and my family can expect to see me arriving on the ferry soon. >> i want to thank you both for joining me on "inside story".
daff nigh reed from virginia, professor silvia, great to talk to you both. i'll have a final talk in a minute on rising tides in the straits of florida - lifting different boats. stay with us. >> sunday. >> my idea of a fun night out? a bit of anarchy! >> punk legend, john lydon. >> my weapons are words, not bullets and bombs. >> turning childhood anger... >> i was left-handed and the nuns seen that as a sign of the devil. >> into hit music. >> it's a perfect introduction into becoming a sex pistol. >> every sunday night. >> i lived that character. >> go one on one with america's movers and shakers. >> we will be able to see change. >> gripping... inspiring... entertaining. "talk to al jazeera". sunday, 6:30 eastern. only on al jazeera america.
on new year's eve 1959 castro's army took havana, and they have been in charge since. the vast majority of havanas can't remember a time before the resolution, or a time that split families and brought sniping. the relationship had a potent symbol. countries lined up to begin ferry service, a common and popular way to move back and forth between havana and miami. four or more american companies
were told by the state don't and the u.s. treasury that they'll be licensed to carry passengers of the over the last 40 years, a way many cubans made to was on the water, but not in a fancy ferry boat. fishing boats, row boats, rafts. whatever floated became a fleet heading to florida. the recent handshake 2010 presidents was a symbol of changing times. for thousands of passengers, the change is summed up by the difference between this and this. send us your thoughts on twitter at ajinside storyor follow me and visit our facebook page and tell us about your own experience. i would love to hear it. i'm ray suarez, thank you for joining us
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