Interview With Steve Harrigan of Fox

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Havana, Cuba
August 14, 2015

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY KERRY: Glad to be with you.

QUESTION: What would you say to the U.S. homeowners who might have lost a farm or property in Cuba 50 years ago? What kind of hopes could they have about perhaps getting some property back that might have been confiscated by the Cuban Government a long time ago?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I can’t say much about the hopes of getting it back, per se. But we have a clear large number of claims that are outstanding by Americans, and the Cubans claim that they have claims against us. And one of the subjects that we are going to be discussing now in our ongoing effort are claims, how they’re going to be resolved. And they have to be resolved, obviously, to a lot of people’s satisfaction. So this will be a major issue of contention between us, and there’s going to have to be a legitimate process respecting international law and the history of claims.

QUESTION: One point some critics have brought up about this is that they say that the Cuban Government has not made significant concessions to gain normal relations. What --

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, they don’t have normal relations yet. All they have is diplomatic relations, not normal. So we have not normalized with Cuba yet. And, clearly, that normalization is going to be dependent on a number of things: progress on all of the areas I talked about today – progress on human rights; progress on human trafficking, for instance; on law enforcement cooperation; on maritime – I mean, there are a lot of benchmarks here that will now become part of the process.

But President Obama felt very strongly, and I agreed, that you have to have the diplomatic relationship to be able to begin to have those conversations. We believe that this step creates a people-to-people avenue and a government-to-government avenue, both of which will help us in our interests, as well as help the Cuban people in theirs.

QUESTION: One final question, sir. Someone with your lengthy experience on the world stage – why is it, do you think, that Cuba has posed such a tough problem for both Democrats and Republicans over the last half century? Is it just the personality of Fidel Castro, or is it something that America isn’t seeing or doing right? Why has this island been, in particular, such a troublesome spot for U.S. foreign policy?

SECRETARY KERRY: Because it’s a closed, authoritarian government that has a diametrically opposed point of view about governance and has, obviously, through the years presided over some events that have been deeply disturbing to the United States, or engaged in activities that have been disturbing. And, therefore, there was a very deep-rooted opposition in the United States that came out of the entire Cuban experience of the homes being expropriated and the revolution and so forth – Bay of Pigs, all of the history. And the Cold War itself had a profound impact on it, and Castro’s alignment with our Cold War protagonist. So I think that Cuba became an extension of that. And it’s taken a long time and a lot of changes to get to a point where we can engage diplomatically to resolve the big differences that I talked about a moment ago.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, sir.