President Castro brands Trump policy ‘a setback’ for relations
HAVANA — Cuban President Raul Castro has ratified his administration’s willingness to continue engagement with the United States despite a setback in relations between the two countries.
At the closing of the parliament’s plenary session, Castro vowed to push forward negotiations on pending bilateral issues “on the basis of equality and the respect for sovereignty and independence”.
“Cuba and the United States can cooperate and coexist by respecting their differences and promoting everything that benefits their peoples,” Castro said, referring to the change of US policy toward Cuba — announced by President Donald Trump last month — as a “setback in bilateral relations”.
Castro’s comments to Cuba’s National Assembly were his first on Trump’s announcement of a partial rollback of the Cuba-US detente achieved by thenpresident Barack Obama. They contained echoes of the harsh rhetoric of the past.
“Any strategy that seeks to destroy the revolution either through coercion or pressure or through more subtle methods will fail,” Castro said.
He also rejected any “lessons” on human rights from the US, saying his country “has a lot to be proud about” on the issue.
Castro said that Trump’s decisions ignored large sectors of the US and most Cuban emigrants in support of lifting the embargo and normalizing bilateral ties, and merely satisfied a small group in Florida.
Castro recalled the previous US administration of Obama, who restored the diplomatic ties with Havana and made progress on issues of mutual interest “on the basis of bilateral respect”.
“We demonstrated that it is possible to live in a civilized way despite our profound differences,” Castro said.
“We reject the manipulation of the human rights issues over Cuba. Our country has many achievements to be proud of, and we do not need to take lessons from the US or anybody else.”
He added: “Cuba will not make concessions concerning its sovereignty and independence, nor negotiate its principles.”
Formal ties between Cuba and the US broke off in March 1961 during the Cold War and were resumed in July 2015 after more than a year of secret negotiations.
The nations had agreed to cooperate in areas such as drug and human trafficking and the environment.