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Cuba's Raul Castro Demands End to US Embargo, Return of Guantanamo

Image: Cuba's Raul Castro Demands End to US Embargo, Return of Guantanamo
Cuban President Raul Castro. (Alejandro Ernesto/AFP/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 28 Jan 2015 04:11 PM

Cuban President Raul Castro laid out the conditions to normalize relations with Washington Wednesday, demanding an end to the embargo, the return of Guantanamo and Havana's removal from a terror list.

Castro issued his demands a week after the highest-ranking U.S. delegation visited Havana in 35 years and Cuban officials held landmark talks aimed at reopening embassies and renewing ties that broke off in 1961.

Cuba has long blamed the embargo for the communist island's economic woes, with billboards in the country equating the decades-old economic sanctions as a "genocide."

"The main problem has not been resolved: the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes huge human and economic damage and is a violation of international rights," Castro said.

"The establishment of diplomatic relations is the beginning of a process toward the normalization of bilateral relations, but this won't be possible as long as the blockade exists," he said.

Speaking at a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in Costa Rica, Castro said that the road to ending the embargo would be "long and hard."

President Barack Obama called on Congress last week to put an end to the embargo, which was imposed in 1962 and has been a major source of tension between the Cold War-era rivals since then.

Earlier this month, Obama used his executive powers to ease travel and trade restrictions with Havana, putting a dent on the embargo.

But Castro said that the U.S. leader should do more.

"He could use with resolve his broad executive powers to substantially change the scope of the blockade, even without the Congress decision," he said.

 

 

Castro and Obama simultaneously announced on Dec. 17 their intention to end half a century of animosity and normalize ties that broke off in 1961.

Some U.S. lawmakers have voiced concern about the rapprochement, especially those of Cuban-American origin, who say Obama conceded too much to Castro without securing guarantees of political change on the island.

"Some forces in the United States will try to abort this process that has started," Castro warned.

After last week's talks, U.S. and Cuban officials said their meeting had been productive and cordial but that "profound differences" remain and that the road to normalization would be complex.

The United States has invited Cuba to hold another round of talks in the coming weeks in Washington.

In his speech in Belen, Costa Rica, Castro said that Havana also wants to be removed from a U.S. blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism, which has blocked Cuba's access to financial institution.

In addition, he demand the return of Guantanamo Bay, where the U.S. Navy has a base being used to jail terrorism suspects.

Another Cuban demand is changes to U.S. policies that allow Cubans to stay in the United States if they step foot on U.S. soil and gives them fast-track access to permanent residency.

Cuba says the U.S. migration policies have caused an exodus and brain drain over the years.

Castro said his delegation outlined the conditions to U.S. officials during last week's historic meeting, and that more talks will take place to deal with these issues.

© AFP 2017

 
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Cuban President Raul Castro laid out the conditions to normalize relations with Washington Wednesday, demanding an end to the embargo, the return of Guantanamo and Havana's removal from a terror list.Castro issued his demands a week after the highest-ranking U.S. delegation...
Cuba, US, diplomacy, Castro
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2015-11-28
Wednesday, 28 Jan 2015 04:11 PM
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