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The Blue & Gray Press | February 21, 2018

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Cuban Diplomat Shares Hopes For a 'Fully Realized Cuban Economy'

By MOLLY HODGES

“I’m not saying who is to blame,” said José Viera Linares, on what he likens to a divorce between the U.S. and Cuba, caused by the U.S. embargo which began in the 1960s.

Viera Linares, a former Cuban diplomat, gave a public lecture Sept. 20 and Sept. 21 in Lee Hall, where he discussed his personal perspective on Cuba today, the history of his generation and Cuba’s relationship with the U.S.

Viera Linares additionally spoke to students in the U.S. Foreign Policy political science class during his visit to the University of Mary Washington.

The lecture, “Cuba Today: Changes to Remain Unchanged,” addressed Cuba’s efforts to maintain a one-party system and the pursuit of a fully realized Cuban economy. He referred to these actions as “changes to avoid changing.”

Viera Linares spoke of the corruption that plagued Cuba throughout his life and that still persists today, particularly within the legal system. According to Viera Linares, Cubans do not have a clear understanding of their rights.

The former diplomat said it is important that Cubans have rights to property, to leave the country and to return. He also said that it is within an American’s constitutional rights to travel to Cuba.

Viera Linares stated that Cuba will never be completely independent until there is a negotiation with the U.S.

“America’s position has a huge influence in whatever happens in Cuba,” said Viera Linares.

The portrayal of Cuba in the media is not accurate, according to Viera Linares. He also mentioned that American tourists would be welcome in Cuba.

“We are exposed all the time to the American way of life,” said Viera Linares.

Senior Sean Simons, a political science major, shared his reaction to the former diplomat’s speech.

“I thought that he gave a great insight into the relationship between the United States and Cuba,” said Simons. “There’s definitely a lot of things that have sort of been misreported, or we don’t have the full story behind them, so it was very interesting to hear his take on the relationship.”