How Fidel Castro answered Obama’s call to ‘forget the past’

By Janet Post
April 4, 2022

NEW YORK — During the March 19-20 International U.S.-Cuba Normalization Conference, Sussen Gazal, who is active in the July 26 Coalition in Boston, posed a question to the Cuban delegation.

When Gazal visited Havana in 2020 she met a Cuban who told her he had named his son Obama, after the former U.S. president, hoping that his administration would lift Washington’s sanctions against Cuba. Gazal said she was “heartbroken” to hear that, because she didn’t share his high expectations that a change from a Republican to a Democrat in the White House would lead to an end to the U.S. economic war against Cuba.

Pedro Luis Pedroso, Cuba’s ambassador to the United Nations, replied that Gazal’s remarks reminded him of the response by Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro to a speech by Obama during his 2016 visit to Cuba. The U.S. president lectured the Cuban people, “It is time now to leave the past behind.” In an article ironically titled “Brother Obama,” Castro pointed to the Cuban people’s successful record of defending their socialist revolution against Washington’s decadeslong drive to destroy it.

“And Fidel told us this: We cannot forget the past,” Pedroso said.

“If we were able to engage in a reopening of the relationship with the U.S.,” the ambassador said, referring to the reestablishment of diplomatic ties between Havana and Washington in 2015, it was because Cuba’s revolutionary government insisted that “we had to respect each other’s sovereignty and equality. But fundamentally, we had to be very mindful of where we came from.”

“Not because you are attached to the past. Not for the sake of the past. It’s because the past is your roots, it’s your base. If you don’t have a solid base, you cannot face the future. And that is the history” of why the Cuban people continue to defend their revolution today, Pedroso said.