Cuban Waiting for Formal U.S. Policy
Diplomat Seeks Substantive Decree
Despite "hostile statements" from the Reagan Administration on Cuban involvement in Central America, the Castro government is still waiting for the release of an official U.S. policy towards Cuba, a high-ranking Cuban diplomat said earlier this week.
Roberto Regalado, First Secretary of the Cuban Interests Section, said his government denies the U.S. accusations that Cuban troops are stationed in Nicaragua, that Cuban advisors operate in El Salvador and that Cuban arms are being shipped to El Salvador.
"We have challenged the United States to show proof, but they haven't done so," Regalado said in an interview following his appearance at an off-the-record Institute of Politics study group Monday. He added such accusations make commenting on U.S.-Cuba policy "guesswork."
The actual source of the recent Central American unrest is the oppression and misery of those people--not Cuban intervention, Regalado said, adding "the fact that the administration is not addressing the real issue means the problem will not be solved."
The U.S. government must recognize that the solution to the El Salvador dilemma requires independent negotiations among the Salvadorans themselves, he said.
Jorge I. Dominguez, professor of Government, yesterday agreed with Regalado that the administration has no policy other than to make verbal threats, saying that "all there really has been from the U.S. government is a lot of hot air." He added that the administration "is using Cuba as a scapegoat in Latin America, as elsewhere."
But Dominguez disputed Regalado's denial of Cuban arms shipments to El Salvador. The United States has supplied plausible evidence that Cuba funnelled weapons to El Salvador from late 1980 to early 1981, Dominguez said.
Regalado said his government would like to normalize relations with the United States "provided it is on an equal basis and our ideals are respected." This includes the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo, which makes trade with other countries difficult as well. Regalado said, adding "we won't negotiate while we are being blackmailed." Regalado has been a member of the Cuban interests section since 1979. Formally a division of the Czech embassy, the interests section handles Cuban affairs in Washington because the two nations have not exchanged ambassadors since the U.S. broke relations in 1960.
In its four years of existence, the interests section has contributed to a better understanding of the issues the two countries face. Regalado said. "Prior to 1977 we weren't able to have any dialogue with Americans," he said.
Shall We Dance
Dominguez, however, questioned the sincerity of the Cuban desire for normalization. "It takes two to tango, and Cuba has not tangoed very nicely recently," he said.