Obama Changes Cuban policy, Castro Wants More

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Since taking office in January, U.S. President Barack Obama has instituted a large shift in the United States policy towards Cuba, which has remained almost unchanged for nearly half a century. Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, however, says the policy shift fails to mention the “harshest of measures”–the economic blockade.

Obama “has announced the relief of some hateful restrictions,” Castro said in a statement carried by the official Cuban News Agency on Monday night. “But not a word was said about the harshest of measures: the blockade. This is the way a truly genocidal measure is piously called, one whose damage cannot be calculated only on the basis of its economic effects, for it constantly takes human lives and brings painful suffering to our people.”

Prior to President Obama’s lift, there were various restrictions on Americans who wanted to visit relatives in Cuba. Now all restrictions have been lifted. In addition, those same Americans now have the ability to send remittances to their families in Cuba.

Although there were many significant changes, some policies remain the same. Key components involving America’s embargo on the island nation will stay, in addition to the various travel restrictions for Americans of non-Cuban descent.

Castro put out a message that Obama should use his “talents” in creating a new policy that would end the embargo that “has failed for almost half a century.” The U.S. government created and enforced the embargo in 1959, three years after Castro took office.

“On the other hand, our country, which has resisted and is willing to resist whatever it takes, neither blames Obama for the atrocities of other U.S. administrations nor doubts his sincerity and his wishes to change the United States policy and image,” Castro said. “We understand that he waged a very difficult battle to be elected, despite centuries-old prejudices.”

The president thinks “that creating independence, creating space for the Cuban people to operate freely from the regime is the kind of space they need to start the process toward a more democratic Cuba,” said White House Latin American policy adviser Dan Restrepo.

The Castro “dictatorship is one of the most brutal in the world. The U.S. economic embargo must remain in place until tyranny gives way to freedom and democracy,” Rep. Connie Mack, R-Florida, said in a written statement.

Obama “should not make any unilateral change in America’s policy toward Cuba. Instead, Congress should vigorously debate these and other ideas before any substantive policy changes are implemented.”

Castro said Cuba had “resisted and it will continue to resist.”

“It will never beg for alms. It will go on forward holding its head up high and cooperating with the fraternal peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean; with or without Summits of the Americas; whether or not the president of the United States is Obama, a man or a woman, a black or a white citizen.”

 

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