Blogging in the Americas: President Obama Responds to Yoani Sanchez's Questions

Posted by Tina Huang
November 20, 2009
Screenshot of Sanchez's Generacion Y Blog

About the Author: Tina Huang serves in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Office of Public Diplomacy.

President Obama recently responded to award-winning, Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez's written questions on the Generation Y blog. In his written response, he thanked Ms. Sanchez’s readers in Cuba and around the world for the opportunity to exchange views web 2.0-style. President Obama commended Ms. Sanchez for providing “the world a unique window into the realities of daily life in Cuba” and applauded the “collective efforts to empower fellow Cubans to express themselves through the use of technology.” He further expressed the importance of what Yoani Sanchez and other bloggers are doing to project their voice “not just for the advancement of the freedom of expression itself, but also for people outside of Cuba to gain a better understanding of the life, struggles, joys, and dreams of Cubans on the island.”

For President Obama’s full responses to Yoani Sanchez’s written interview, please visit: www.desdecuba.com/generationy/.

To the Generation Yers and readers around the world: How would you respond to Yoani’s questions?

Comments

Comments

Sarah
|
District Of Columbia, USA
November 21, 2009

Sarah in Washington, DC writes:

I'd like to begin by expressing what an amazing forum blogging has become. It has amazing potential for the people of the world to express their views every day in an open and civil way. Blogging is everyday diplomacy for everyday people (as well as some very important people).

To answer Yoani's first question, while I agree with President Obama's assessment that Cuba and the United States share many challenges, I believe that U.S. relations with Cuba should be seen primarily as foreign relations. There are many Cuban immigrants living in the United States. These immigrants do create a need for domestic policy, but as far as the government of Cuba is concerned, the United States should take a stance that they are just like any other foreign entity.

For Yoani's second question, regarding the legitimacy of Raul Castro's government, I can only give my opinion. I believe that the only way to really communicate with the people and open boundaries between the United States and Cuba is to recognize the government of that country. I agree with the President when he says that the government is not the only voice that matters, but it is an important voice that we need to recognize in order to make improvements in the lives of Cubans.

I fully support President Obama's response to Yoani's third question. There is no room for the use of force against Cuba as a means to change. As we have seen in Afghanistan and Iraq, the use of the military in order to change another country's political structure does not always work and has some very risky consequences. In Cuba, the answer is the people. Only the people of a country can bring about the change that they want there. This does not mean that the United States would not support the people. However, the movement needs to be started with the people, not with a foreign government.

Raul Castro is definitely not asking too much when he requests talks on a level playing field. He and his government deserve the respect granted the leader of any country. This also means, though, that he must treat the United States and President Obama with the same respect. As long as there is a completely level playing field, the cornerstone of diplomacy, the United States and Cuba should be able to form a lasting and proactive relationship.

Much like blogging, it is important to open a forum in foreign policy in which many different voices are heard and considered. This happens for many countries the United States has policies with and should definitely happen with Cuba as well. This does not mean that the policy of the United States should agree with every single one of these groups. At some point, the U.S. has to take a position on Cuba rather than being pulled in a thousand directions.

As an American, it amazes me that people still live without continuous access to the internet. It is such an important tool for us to open forums around the world, such as this one. The United States should do what it can to increase access to the internet for Cubans, but this action, I believe, ultimately needs to come from the Cuban government.

Finally, I believe that a visit by Obama to Cuba would be an important step forward for relations between the two countries. This does require careful preparation, but I believe, it is something that is accomplishable. Our president has travelled a great deal. It is time for him to travel to Cuba as an act of respect and to convey the message that the United States is open to forging a new relationship.

jose f.
|
Guatemala
November 23, 2009

Jose F. in Guatemala writes:

There is no room for the use of force against Cuba as a means to change. As we have seen in Afghanistan and Iraq, the use of the military in order to change another country's political structure does not always work and has some very risky consequences. In Cuba, the answer is the people. Only the people of a country can bring about the change that they want there. This does not mean that the United States would not support the people. However, the movement needs to be started with the people, not with a foreign government.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
November 23, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Re: questions #2 & #4

If I were to add anything to Presdent Obama's answer to these two related questions, I think I would have offered something for the Castro bros to chew on in the meantime, till we get to talking seriously.

Thing is, the Castro bros won't be around forever and old age must be self aparent to them.

So what kind of legacy do they wish to leave the Cuban people will be also self evident by how they embrace this inevitable transition out of power.

Are the Castro bros prepared to assist the Cuban people in becoming a nation that plays on a level playing field with democratic nations in general on every level, not just bilaterally with the US?

If the answer to that is yes, then we have something worthy of talking about beyond the immediately pressing social needs we do talk about, in my opinion.

And a lot of help would be forthcoming to the Cuban people from all quarters of the international community if they saw evidence that the Castro bros. were sincere in their intent ( hypotheticly speaking, a comprehensive modernization program including infrastructure would probably have internatonal donor support as a gateway to future investment opportunity), and were moving in the directon of eventual democratic transition and their inevitable letting go of power.

What would be really smart would be for them to not just release all political prisoners, but engage with them in debate over the following question, "How do we make this eventual transiton work to the people's benefit, in a peaceful, cooperative manner.

It starts with an attitude I have yet to see manifest, and for the US I think we'll know it when we see it and act accordngly.

.

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