April 14th, 2009
11:06 AM ET
5 years ago

Castro wants more from Obama on Cuba

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The U.S. policy shift toward Cuba makes no mention of the "harshest of measures" - the economic blockade - former Cuban leader Fidel Castro says.

U.S. President Barack 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."

Earlier, Obama lifted all restrictions on the ability of individuals to visit relatives in Cuba, as well as to send them remittances.

The move represents a significant shift in a U.S. policy that had remained largely unchanged for nearly half a century. But several key components of America's embargo on the island nation will be preserved. Travel restrictions for Americans of non-Cuban descent will also remain in place.

The U.S. government instituted the embargo three years after Castro took office in 1959.

Castro, in his message, said Obama can use his "talents" in creating a constructive policy that would end the embargo that "has failed for almost half a century."

"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."

Obama thinks the change in U.S. policy will ultimately help bring about a more tolerant, democratic Cuban government, said White House Latin American policy adviser Dan Restrepo.

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," Restrepo said.

But critics of the change blasted the administration for unilaterally changing what had been a long-settled U.S. policy.

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."

The president's gesture precedes a trip this week to Trinidad and Tobago for a key meeting of hemispheric powers - the Summit of the Americas.
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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soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Husman

    This is the right step in righting the wrong headed policies of the past half century.This gesture ,will open up the people of Cuba.I am tired of the hatred that the right wing nuts are spunning.China,Russia are communist nations yet we deal, wine and dine with them .Its time to end this evil against the people of Cuba. 50 years is enough of the anti people foreign policy.

    April 14, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. Deborah

    I hope and pray that Obama will realize from Castro's response that we don't live in the Ideal World this community organizers thinks we do!

    Consider this On the Job Training!

    Before you speak again find out the true facts and the true will of the American people....

    You work for "We the people!" Bow to us!

    April 14, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. Tim

    Mr. Castro, how about if we just apologize for being so rude to your great country in the past? If Obama comes over and gives a speach asking for your forgiveness, would that be ok?

    April 14, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  4. Mikey Furlong, Long Island, NY

    Nothing! Obama should do nothing for Cuba! What has Cuba done to deserve us? Nothing but kill its people and starve them. Cuba is communistic and should be invaded by us and be made into a democracy like Iraq! We already have a base there to start an invasion. They have no real army. They drive around in 1950s cars and Yugos for pete's sake! They can only throw bananas at us! Cuba must submit to our will and our style of democracy before we helpt them with anything!

    April 14, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  5. Tim

    Oops, I forgot that you said the democratic caucus that just visted your high-holiness said that America was a racist country. If Obama apologizes on behalf of white Americans, would that be ok with you?

    April 14, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  6. Had It

    Obama is not by any means weak – he's just not a self-centered bully like our previous president was.

    Those sanctions have made matters worse for a lot of families and I think it's time they end. Kindness will get more from people than a threat of "dead or alive".

    Good job, President Obama.

    April 14, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. Always Bet On .... BaaaaRack

    What our very clever President has done, despite what is critics say, is to politically out manuever the Castro brothers.

    His change in policy toward Cuba will bring communication and influence of American interests to Cuba. These will sow seeds of discontent and strengthen the Cuban people's internal pressure for reform. Thus far our LEADER hasn't really "given" Castro anything.

    As Castro now asks for the embargo to be lifted, PRESIDENT OBAMA has placed the State Department in position to extract concesssions in exchange for relaxed sanctions.

    BY NOW it should be clear to his DOMESTIC opponents not to underestimate this man ... don't criticize him prematurely with the hopes of building momentum against him. He is no novice.

    He won't get them all right but they should stop trying to guess when he'll be wrong. It's killling them.

    April 14, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. BC

    Communism in every form is still communism; so is socialism...But communism is the worst! I hope we never forget the consequences of such evil ideologies. All are based on atheistic 'economy' which threaten freedom of authentic religion and its practice. North Korea does whatever it wants (communism) and is seems to be a threat to world peace. Are the communist trying to make a comeback? Why do we not address issues first of interior nature. What about the big issues at home? Prudence, prudence, prudence! Unfortunely, history will never be deleted here in the US like it happened in Europe. Do not forget willingly or unconsciously.

    April 14, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. L'Broke

    We just need to take it nice and easy. The last thing we need is an ex-rival getting up in our buisness when we're kinda...um...in trouble with ourselves.

    I sense Cuba's age of communisim is nearly over. Castro's almost dead and I doubt his brother's going to be that powerful.

    April 14, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. David, CA

    I fully support Obama's approach to Cuba, and agree with other posters that Castro and the Cuban govt need to reciprocate. Castro's pushy rhetoric is useless and obstructive.

    April 14, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  11. FreeNLovIt

    It's time for Castro to set his people free. He led them into the wilderness for almost 60 years or something like that.

    April 14, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  12. obama/mama

    Change we can believe in

    April 14, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. Peter E

    For five decades we tried to isolate Cuba and that produced NO results. Call me crazy, but perhaps it's time we tried a different approach.

    April 14, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  14. southerncousin

    I am sure that like the CBC, Obama looks at Cuba and sees the model for the America he wants.

    April 14, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. Franco Tirado

    Didnt we fight communist Viet-Nam in one of the worse wars and periods of our time? Now we are pals with Viet-nam but not with Cuba.

    Cuban, hasnt done any harm or killed any USA citizens. How about our chine.. MADE IN CHINA!!

    Obama, trash that embargo is so OBSOLETE!!

    And while you are at it, send Bush, Cheney, Gonzales, Connie and all their friends to the Hague for crimes against humanity. Bush had done more harm to the world, committed more crimes against humanity and killed more folks than Castro ever did in 50 yrs.

    April 14, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  16. BILL

    When will Cuban citizens be allowed to travel. All I hear is what the United States is to do for Cuba. When will Cuba have to reciprocate. The talk now is of travel to Cuba, except for American citizens of non-Cuban descent. Canadians and Europeans are allowed to travel to Cuba. Does anyone know how many Cubans travel to Europe or to Canada. Answer: NONE, ZERO. Do not just bash the policy of the United States until you actually reveiw the policies of Cuba. Its not hard to find the answers if you are willing to learn.

    April 14, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. Bill ~ Down on the Bayou

    The only thing "President" Castro needs to do is put some numbers on what it is he wants and the obama will triple the amount and go crawling to him on hands and knees to see if he would like anything more.Remember when Castro and his entourage were killing chickens in their New York hotel rooms?

    April 14, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. American

    So some Americans can go to Cuba and others can't. There is another word for preferential treatment – discrimination.

    April 14, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. Scott AZ

    Hmmm....Obama can kick out the terrorists at Camp Gitmo change the name to Camp Barney Frank or Rev Wright, and move his WH weekend retreat from Camp David to Cuba.

    April 14, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  20. Larry

    Castro must be a Republican ...

    Even he can't give Obama a break ...

    The guys been in office less than 90 days ...

    Peace ...

    April 14, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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