November 26th, 2008
02:50 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama camp declines comment on reported Castro offer

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Castro reportedly told an interviewer he would be willing to meet with Obama."](CNN) - The Obama transition team declined comment Wednesday on a report that Cuban President Raul Castro might be interested in meeting with the president-elect at Guantanamo Bay, and had told an interviewer Cubans could "send [Obama] home with the American flag that waves over" the U.S. base there.

Asked whether he would be willing to visit Washington to speak with Obama, Castro instead suggested to actor Sean Penn Guantanamo Bay could serve as "neutral ground" for discussions. Castro also told Penn, in an interview published in The Nation, that the two leaders "must meet and begin to solve our problems."

Raul Castro’s brother, longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro, criticized Obama this spring for his position in favor of altering – but retaining – Washington’s nearly five-decade trade embargo on the island nation.

Obama came under fire from campaign rivals for his statement at a CNN/YouTube Democratic primary debate that he would be willing to meet without preconditions with Castro and other leaders hostile toward the United States.

–CNN's Ed Henry contributed to this report

Filed under: Cuba
soundoff (111 Responses)
  1. Nancy

    What are they going to say Juan, he isn't president yet – maybe you should get a clue!

    November 26, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. jack

    Wait till Fidel dies and Raul has a free hand to do what his brother could never do. Admit defeat and give in the capitalism. Soviet Russia did. Start by letting exports come in from Cuba and imports from the US into that country. Of course few will have the money to buy the goods but at least seed can be bought by the government and help the farmers raise more crops to help feed the people.

    And about taking the flag home....we defeated Spain and won Cuba in that war. We gave the people the island and kept a small base for ships to resupply in the Caribbean. And look how they dropped the ball when they chose communism? They followed a bad leader. We are willing to help out, but they need to change leadership.

    November 26, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. Hopeful for Tomorrow

    @JuanM - You do even realize that he's not even President yet, don't you? Why would he comment on something now that he can't even ethically involve himself in until January 20th at the earliest? Obama has been very direct in reminding everyone that Bush is still Commander-in-Chief until that time.

    November 26, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. linda

    Obama is going to do wants best for our country, and if he does meet with Casto or whoever else it will be for the betterment of the USA

    November 26, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. Matt in Oregon

    We can learn a lesson from Nixon and Mao. Opening a dialogue increases, not diminishes, the chances of democratic reforms in Cuba. Its time to end the embargo and open a productive, cautious relationship.

    November 26, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  6. kathleen , san juan

    for Rob at 4:10

    The Cubans have already had a chance to see the USA's justice system up close in their own province of Guantanamo. I used to be able to brag about our system, but what they have seen belies anything I ever said. Not a good example of democracy in action. And they know the US government has forbidden its citizens from traveling to Cuba. Not a good example of freedom. I dont know how we are going to be able to sell capitalism after the trillion dollar bailout of Wall Street, money we borrowed from Communist China.

    November 26, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. J.Crobuzon

    We keep the base, flag and all. Nice try, Raul.

    November 26, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  8. Well there it is

    Sean Penn attempts to reprise his role as the Snowman, a strung out drug addict selling secrets to the Communists. Life imitates art?

    But Rob does make a valid statement.

    November 26, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. Gene from Georgia

    As usual, the knee-jerk jingoists have it backwards. It is precisely the embargo that has legitimized the Castro's. To topple the regime, get a few Victoria's Secrets and Lowe's in there (not Home Depot, that would send them back to Communism). It's time the US stopped letting its foreign policy be dictated by the Miami Mob offspring of pissed-off ex-plantation owners who lost all their servants in 1958.

    November 26, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  10. Frank from Peterborough

    I can't believe the ignorance and stupidity exhibited by some of the bloggers on this site.

    What possible good is it doing anyone in the U.S. to starve Cuba and/or Cubans? But I guess it's the same jerks that back the rest of the failed policies of the Republican bigots and hate mongers.

    With the U.S. policy of giving automatic citizenship to any Cubans that set foot on their shores is like holding out a chocolate bar to a starving child from the opposite side of a busy 4 lane highway.

    It's time for sensible people in the U.S. to understand it's up to Cubans if they want Democracy not the U.S. to tell them to do it or we'll starve your economy. Jerks absolute Jerks no wonder the world hates America.

    November 26, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  11. Jaye

    I wish we could make peace with Cuba. The long standing riff needs to be's gone on long enough.

    November 26, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. Proud Democrat

    Doesn't he know Obama has agreed not to talk to tyrants without pre-conditions.

    November 26, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. John Q. Cynic

    What's wrong with talking to the Cuban leadership, the Bush/Cheney, and the far rights way of politics is child like....that only raises more disdain for the US.

    November 26, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  14. Rick

    smpotter says:

    Right wing of Attila the Hun, eh ? Didn'y realize you people knew how to read."

    Well sm........just one of many things you didn't realize....including how to spell.

    November 26, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  15. Luis

    Unbelievable the amount of ignorance shown on this board. No wonder America is going down the tubes, with the mentality shown by some here, we'll be completely isolated from the rest of the world because they won't play nice with us. This is the 21st century and Cuba should not have an embargo. Guantanamo is Cuban territory and the US should stop with failed policies. How would you like for China to take part of California because we owe them so much money? Not nice, huh. Well, we're not far from that at the rate we're going. Change is needed and if Obama doesn't deliver, we need to pick someone who will in 2012 before it's too late.

    November 26, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  16. Allen in Hartwell, GA

    How about letting Bush go down there before he leaves office? He is such a patriot that he should be more than willing to escort the flag back to the USA, and think how this would look for his legacy.

    November 26, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. Gloria A.

    I realize that some people don't appreciate celebraties involving themselves in the political arena, but you have to admit that they do have some influence to matter how small.

    November 26, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  18. Griff

    Borack Obama! The Fool who bends in the Breeze....
    Go get him Obama... Use your Baby-Teeth... Give him a Big-Suck...

    November 26, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  19. al in memphis

    Rick November 26th, 2008 4:21 pm ET

    Obama and Castro should get along just fine…..birds of a feather.

    Your comments does not surprise me. I'm surprise you took time to read the article instead of waiting for a clue from Limbaugh.

    You might be surprise to know that lots of world conflicts have been resolved through constructive, tough dialogue - instead of war. Please stay away from sharp objects and children in need of intelligent conversation.

    November 26, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  20. Philadelphian trapped in Texas

    I'm an Obama supporter. I understood why he couldn't come out during the campaigns and announce that we should end the Cuban embargo, even though I deplored his unwillingness to take that stance. I'm not even convinced he believes that now, even though it never achieved anything.

    Still, consistent with his controversial position on dialogue, it does little harm, and possibly a lot of good, to meet with Raul Castro, and, yes, all you resistors, without "preconditions". It seems to me that a 50-year embargo is a sufficient precondition in and of itself.

    November 26, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  21. Archie H.

    Go ahead Obama meet with Castro ! Castro has a long history of taking advantage of gullibles!

    November 26, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  22. chelle

    As a Canadian, it has always baffled and fascinated me, the way the US goes on and on about Cuba, Castro and human rights, and communism. Hello!!!! China has always been far harsher and yet your companies are invested up to their eyeballs there, your citizens travel to China with nary a blink, and you attend the OIympics there flying your flag proudly. It is utterly amazing that you persist in demonizing poor little Cuba. I guess it gives the government someone to pick on that really can't fight back.....

    November 26, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  23. TyWebb

    Is Sarah Palin in Cuba campaigning?

    November 26, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  24. Jonathan M in a Red State

    What no one seems to realize is that Pres. Bush didn't just come up and say "hey! I know, why don't we torture ppl at this prison!" Every president has done so since the US has held foreign prisoners. THe news was just never expansive enough to inform the public. Prisoners in Guantanamo have more rights and better treatment than our soldiers get in Iraq or Afghanistan if captured. Think about it.

    November 26, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  25. Gonzo in Houston

    For 40+ years we have maintained an embargo with Cuba. Exactly how much influence has it had on the regime? If we open trade with them we would quickly become Cuba's largest trading partner. I wonder how much influence that might get us?

    November 26, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
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