History passing by infront of us: USA and Cuba

On 19 December, 2014, in Blog, Leadership, by Ingenia


This week we saw History passing by, almost touching and sensing it. Also witnesed the nobelty and spirit of a particular way of understanding , feeling and crafting Politics.

The daily life in the Public Service today can be described as a permanent theater of exageration, noise and absurd gestures; full of disappointments and nays, disloyalty with gray and dark colors and without no smiles. Excepting one day when everything changes and allows us to believe again that Politics is the art of making possible the impossible. And even despite the cold black and white days, once in a while there’s color and happiness in the Public Service.

Despite the insensitivity and coldness of digital algorithms and search engines; despite the non-stop spiral news crusher today; despite being slaved to the #realtime and #timelines of social networks; these days therefore we are able to stop #actitudeslow and try to understand the magnitude of what happened.


1. Words.

Lets get back to 2007 in the Democratic primaries for the US presidency. Debate season between the candidates in North Carolina, when at one point :

Republicans responded attacking and ridiculing the naiveté and lack of experience and capacity of the future president.

2. Words.

A few years later, in another continent, the key players of the future episode met for the first time. The character and attitude of the president are two essential pillars of his charisma:


3. Facts.

A year later, from the Cabinet Room presided by the Constitutions signature famous painting:

Key messages: 

  • the time for dogmatic and sectarian essentialism is over;
  • 50 years of macho/hard-line/hackish attitude haven’t been useful and time has come to set a expiring date to the embargo;
  • Restoration of Diplomatic relations;
  • Pressing harder the free economy to promote democratic trickle-down reforms;
  • To his Critics : “I understand you and respect you, but it’s time to look ahead”; seeking protection under the Pope’s umbrella;
  • Resounding the “the AmericaS ” and ” todos somos americanos” concepts;

At the same time, 90 miles Florida South-East, in a parallel reality, the Cuban counterpart staged an unthinkable change:

In the island everything is different. The “a lo cubano” concept takes on a new dimension when it comes to write a golden page of recent history.

We are surprised by the -open neck- military guayabera and the gals on the shirt. Also that very ancient rhetoric; the clearance of finished reading pages; not looking one single time at the camera; and the symbolism of the portraits of the three principal souls of the founding revolutionary Cuban DNA.

The main names of the message: Fidel and the Pope.

The bottom line: otherness recongintion and a commitment to “the art of living with our differences.”

The symbolism of the gesture after finishing reading the stategment, the papers are collected and pounded on the table: a clear non-verbal communication sign of the mood. The important scene is over.


78 years old and the #softpower impersonation: the soul of the new Public Diplomacy: smiles, kindness, magnetism and slow gestures; Jesuit wisdom; humility and discretion and a high sense of empathy and otherness. His method of building his Public Leadership non-stop ellipse based is extraordinary:
Attitudes → Words → Images → Gestures/Facts → Leadership
(and let’s begin again from the beginning setting the bar higher each time)
(Nobel Prize, Hello!?)
Also outlining His Holiness alter ego, Pietro Parolin, his loyal Secretary of State: another bridge-builder and sensitivities sewer, who was tested in the impossible Vietnam.
Befote staging the Cabinet Room speech, the previous process has been exceptional. (Hollywood has already start gathering sources and all the available information. It’s set to be a master piece Oliver Stone directed?)
The attempts of trust rehabilitation between the US and Cuba are innumerable. The vast majority have been slowly weaved at a gentle boil. Some of them more or less exposed to the light, others very discreet. Always doomed as a consequence of egos, personalism, opportunism, betrayal and disloyalty, leaks political partisanship and lowercase.
American domestic kitchen this time conspired to overcome all the obstacles. The most important one: some sectarian and paritsan senior officials and diplomats at the State and Defense Departments; CIA and an important whing of the Republican opposition.
Three main names:
  • Ben Rhodes: who began in 2007 with the Obama Campaing team managing the media and joining Jon Favreau’s team speech-writters. He’s been in the White House since 2008. Today is one of most trusted men of Susan Rice, former US ambassador to the UN and now National Security Advisor to the President. Ben was Obama’s direct envoy in the talks in Canada and the Vatican.
  • Jim McGovern, the Democratic congressman from Massachusetts. He’s responsible for maintaining the bridges and being the back channel with the Cuban leadership. Also for building the necessary firewall to maintain the Congressional opposition out of dynamiting any move, gesture or initiative.
  • John Kerry , the Secretary of State and senior Senator, has worked his personals relationships with the most hostile and distrustful Republican senators to secure the entire operation. His trusted colleague Texas Senator John McCain has been important to prevent riots in the Republican caucuses.
Let me state any parallelism between Cuban Crisis and Democratic presidents: in 1962 the Cuban missile crisis and the Kennedys and this episode and Obama.
This shock has consequences for both parties : 
1. On the US side:
  • Florida, one of the swing states to secure in order to win the White House, has become less Republican and this Obama bold movement will endure an inner catharsis. Game on for Democrats, while forcing Republicans to revamp itself and rethink the embracing of the ideological status quo dissent.
  • Let’s stop to the angry reaction of Senator Marco Rubio, the young Republican rising star for the 2016 presidential primaries:

“I will do everything possible to roll back these changes.”

  • Rubio chances and expectations of being a wining candidate in the Republican primary are over with the new approach. If Republicans castle themselves even more and keep looking back are going to loose a golden opportunity to start building a new Florida narrative. They have the key to open the path to the Cuban dissidence to make a generation values change and be advocates of the new transition: pragmatism vs. dogmatism.
  • Geostrategically, Obama burning down the Cuban fire, makes him occupy the main central role in the Americas leadership. Even in Venezuela -Obama’s next goal-  Maduro had words and a kind reaction to the US.
2. On the Cuban side:
  • The regime won domestic and international legitimacy;
  • Relief the fragility and difficulties of the Castro ruling, which must be translated into easing civilian daily life on the island;
  • The Communist Party will drive the political transition;
  • Cuban leaders as the privileged interlocutors between Venezuela and the United States;
  • More economic openness, more dollars, more trade, more tourism, more investment, construction of a new Cuban private sector – middle class – … and at the end of the chain, the democratic transition.


The resounding triumph of the #softpower, the real soul of the new Public Diplomacy:

” neither winners nor losers” , “Both parties must end the trip with dignity.”

This reality contrasts with the failed attitude of resentment and essentialism doctrine of Spanish former Primer Minister Aznar -seeking always victors and vanquished (e.g.: Carromero). In a retrospect view it is a pity and a useless Spain refusing to play the role of mediator and bridge builder. Now Primer Minister Rajoy has jumped on the bandwagon winner from the zero point, changing the mindset of the Popular Party.

Also it’s an important message to president Putin : “the strength and hard-lines are not the answer.”


The image is brutal: Obama in the final path of his presidency; whose party has been sweept from the Capitol in his second mid-term election; at his lowest popularity hours ever; showing that coherence on a new approach of foreign affairs and its attitudes based on a new Politics has an historic reward and make us believe again in Public Service.

It seems the lame-duck president wasn’t so and is not finished yet. Immigration, enviroment and foreign affairs will rise de bar of the final months of his presidency and set his legacy. Thank you Mr. President!

@aleixcuberes is the @ingenia_pro director.

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2 Responses to History passing by infront of us: USA and Cuba

  1. Álvaro says:

    I’m afraid there won’t be political transition in Cuba for a while.

    At least not while the Castro brothers still rule the island, and even after them I think it’s gonna be very difficult to create a multiparty system if the PCC handles the situation.

    Great post though,


  2. Ingenia says:

    Thank you Álvaro for stopping by and share your thoughts!

    You have been a privileged witness of the daily life in the Island so we appreciate a lot your opinions on the matter.

    Maybe it’s too early to openly talk about political transition in Cuba. The main thing is attitudes have changed and the economic door can set the terms of the new political transition to resolve Cuban political blockade. Time will be required to frame what’s going to happen.

    Let’s discuss it face to face with a good coffee! Thank you again and Merry Christmas to you and your Family!

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