Cuban Bishops' Aide: Time for Change With US

Notes Hope New Presidents Will Make Difference

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HAVANA, Cuba, MARCH 3, 2009 ( A spokesman of the Cuban bishops’ conference says he thinks «it’s time for a change» in Cuba-United States relations as both countries have new presidents.

Orlando Márquez in an editorial in the Havana diocese’s newspaper «Palabra Nueva» (New Word), urged both Raúl Castro and Barack Obama to get past the distance of recent decades.

The spokesman lamented both the U.S. embargo and the Cuban portrayal of the United States as the home of «all the bad of the world.»

Speculation as to how ready Obama and Castro are to warm relations varies. But Márquez propsed that «signs from the two presidents suggest an apparent compromise with the present hour: the hour of change.»

«Will the hour of re-encounter, relief for millions of Cubans, opportunity denied to North Americans finally arrive with this new North American administration and what seems to be a new discourse in Cuba,» the spokesman asked. «Perhaps yes. We should hope that it would be this way and there are many motives to desire that it be this way. We should demand that it be this way.»

Márquez admitted that he did not want to condition a bettering of Cuba with improved U.S. relations. But, he said, «if a dialogue is begun with the White House before [there is] a national dialogue, that is not bad. The order of the events does not alter the final product.»

Still, «national dialogue is always more important,» the spokesman affirmed, «because if Obama is not a change for Cuba, then we won’t change Cuba for Cubans?»

Márquez made a call to leave behind the «lack of trust of the past, as much from the U.S. side as from the Cuban one.»

«The ghostly obstacles of the Cold War rise up again,» he lamented, «aiming to ignore the outcry of millions of people.»

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