Cuban President Raul Castro has said that US interference in his country’s internal affairs would render rapprochement between the two countries “meaningless.”
Castro’s comments came a week after Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, the highest-ranking US official to visit the island in over 35 years, met with dissidents following talks with Havana government officials.
“Everything appears to indicate that the aim is to foment an artificial political opposition via economic, political and communicational means,” said Castro while attending a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Costa Rica on Wednesday.
“If these problems are not resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States would be meaningless,” he added.
Castro went on to urge US President Barack Obama to utilize his executive authority and ease a decades-long trade embargo against Cuba.
“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.
He added that Washington could expand measures similar to those announced for telecoms to other fields of the country’s economy.
Under Obama’s latest Cuban policies, US companies can be allowed to invest in the country’s telecommunications sector.
“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.
Last week, Obama called on Congress to end the Cuban embargo, imposed in 1962, which has been a major source of tension between both countries.
Castro referred to Obama’s decision to debate the embargo’s removal in Congress as “significant”, adding he knew ending the ban “will be a long and hard road.”
In order to completely normalize relations with Cuba, Obama requires approval from the Republican-controlled Congress.
Last month, President Obama announced that Washington would start talks with Cuba to normalize diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in the American foreign policy towards the communist country in over 50 years.
On December 17, Obama and Castro announced they had reached an agreement to normalize ties after 18 months of secret negotiations.
In his State of the Union address on January 20, Obama said, “In Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. When what you’re doing doesn’t work for 50 years, it’s time to try something new.”
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