Manuel Yepe was a speaker at the 3rd International Che Guevara Conference in Vancouver last weekend. Yepe is a journalist and professor at the Superior Institute of International Relations of Havana, and worked directly with Che Guevara.
Yepe was a leader of the underground Movement in Matanzas July 26, leading up to the the Cuban revolution. The US has refused to recognize the revolutionary government, but Yepe hopes the threat of the recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill may potentially ease the embargo and silence between the two governments which has endured for over half a century.
“I mean Cuba has been trying to hold conversations with the United States for fifty years, ever since the embargo started. I remember that in the first years of the revolution we had Che Guevara precisely, we just had discomfort. Che Guevara was appointed by the Cuban government to be the person to hold conversations with the United States. He was ready at his back, ready to go to Washington and discuss. That was the first location the United States didn’t want to hold conversations with Cuba about any matter.”
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said last week she wants flights to be permitted between Tampa and Cuba. But the US has refused to recognize the Cuban government. Yepe says that Cuba has almost always been willing to resume relations with the US.
“The problem with Cuba has been the result of the will of the Cuban people. The Cuban people wanted this. We have this government, this social system that we have now because the Cuban people decided, and it’s self-determination. The United States doesn’t have any right what so ever to oppose this. We want to talk things with the Unites States. We have always been in that position for everything.”
Even in times of great distress, the US has denied assistance from Cuba, despite the lack of help available within America.
“When you had the Katrina disaster in New Orleans, we offered to send you hundreds of doctors to help you in any way. When you had the 9/11 disaster in New York, we offered our aid and doctors.”
Oil drifting from the spill has been reportedly seen within 100 miles of Cuba’s coast, prompting the United States to consider lifting the embargo on items that could be used to clean up the spill.
“We don’t like to have this situation, like the water, existing now in the Gulf. It’s bad for the United States. It’s bad for Cuba too.”
Yepe says that Cuba is even willing to assist in mitigating the influx of drugs coming from Latin America into the US.
“We don’t like the situation we have with drugs These drugs that come from South America and go into the United States, because sometimes they’re flown over to Cuba. We want to cooperate with the United States; find ways. We have always tried to find means to cooperate with the United States. But it seems not to be convenient with the real power of the United Sates that is sometimes much higher than the government of the United States.”
WMNF will bring you more from this interview with Cuban underground leader Manuel Yepe next week.