Source: Associated Press
Cuba’s President Raúl Castro has demanded that the United States return the US base at Guantánamo Bay, lift the half-century trade embargo on Cuba and compensate his country for damages before the two nations re-establish normal relations.
Castro told a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States that Cuba and the US are working toward full diplomatic relations but “if these problems aren’t resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement wouldn’t make any sense”.
Castro and the US president, Barack Obama, announced on 17 December that they would move towards renewing full diplomatic relations by reopening embassies in each other’s countries. The two governments held negotiations in Havana last week to discuss both the reopening of embassies and the broader agenda of re-establishing normal relations.
Obama has loosened the trade embargo with a range of measures designed to increase economic ties with Cuba and increase the number of Cubans who don’t depend on the communist state for their livelihoods.
The Obama administration says removing barriers to US travel, remittances and exports to Cuba is a tactical change that supports the United States’ unaltered goal of reforming Cuba’s single-party political system and centrally planned economy.
Cuba has said it welcomes the measures but has no intention of changing its system. Without establishing specific conditions, Castro’s government has increasingly linked the negotiations with the US to a set of longstanding demands that include an end to US support for Cuban dissidents and Cuba’s removal from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.