Using poetry and even fairy tales to make their point, delegates gathered at the Seventh Congress of the Cuban Communist Party deployed a colorful arsenal to criticize President Barack Obama and his new policy of engagement with Cuba.
Referring to the United States again as “the enemy” was a popular talking point during the debates at the Congress, which started Saturday with a two-hour speech by Cuban leader Raúl Castro. Obama's address to the Cuban population during his visit to Havana last month was particularly riling to Communist Party loyalists, seeming to have marked a before and after in the process of normalization.
René González, one of the Cuban spies of the “Wasp Network,” who was invited to speak, compared Obama to the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
“Here was the ‘Pied Piper’ 15 days ago and he came to play to our children and steal their hearts,” González told the gathering. “He played the flute very well, because he has specialists who tell him how to play it.”
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Antonio Guerrero — also a member of the Cuban spy network who was freed on Dec. 14, 2014 as part of a prisoners’ exchange agreement — dedicated a few verses from Cuban poet Cintio Vitier to Obama and his policy of rapprochement: “Don’t attempt with your delicacy to have me betray myself. Do not pretend you are going to believe in my situation.”
According to a report in Juventud Rebelde, Guerrero turned to poetry, “as a resonant symbolic exercise against those who approach us today with fake softness.”
Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez was more straightforward in his criticism of Obama, whom he accused of wanting to “dazzle” Cuban entrepreneurs.
“Obama came to stand here and dazzle the non-state sector of the economy [the so called cuentapropistas] as if he was not the defender of big corporations but the defender of those selling hot dogs and small businesses in the U.S.,” he said.
Rodríguez then clarified how the ruling elite perceives the United States in this new era of relations. Commenting about Castro’s announcement of a constitutional referendum in the near future, the foreign minister insisted that it was “a battle” in a different context, with “a very heterogeneous society...in which there are changes in the perception of the enemy, which remains the enemy. And it is there, in the North.”
Although Castro agreed to restore diplomatic relations, open embassies and partake in talks for continued cooperation, the new policy approach promoted by the Obama administration has led militants and government officials to dust off the old Marxist manuals to warn of the dangers of “ideological subversion,” a theme that resonated during the congress session.
As usual, delegates on Monday again rubber-stamped various proposals such as a document theorizing the new economic model for Cuba, which will move on for broader discussions before final approval.
Tuesday is the final day of the Cuban Communist Party’s Congress, when results of who will be heading the Central Committee and the Politburo will be announced. Those positions are perhaps the most important outcome of the gathering.