The Cuban government issued a statement on Friday in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s announced change of policy toward the socialist-run island, reasserting the country’s sovereignty.
In a speech at the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami, Trump said he will cancel former President Barack Obama’s "completely one-sided deal with Cuba."
“Our policy will seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and for the United States of America. We don’t want U.S. dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba,” Trump said.
He added that U.S. sanctions would not be lifted until Cuba frees “political prisoners” and holds “free elections.”
Under the changes, Washington will tighten rules on individual U.S. citizens travelling to Cuba. Travellers going there for non-academic educational purposes will again be required to visit with organized tour groups run by U.S. companies.
The new policy also bans most U.S. business deals with the military-linked Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group, GAESA, while still allowing airlines and cruise ships to continue services.
In response to these changes, the Cuban government has reaffirmed its willingness to work with Washington while at the same time slamming the U.S. government’s continuation of the illegal blockade.
“The Cuban Government denounces the new measures to tighten the blockade, which are doomed to fail as has been shown repeatedly in the past, and which will not achieve its purpose to weaken the Revolution or to defeat the Cuban people, whose resistance to the aggressions of Any type and origin has been proven over almost six decades,” Cuban officials said in a statement published Friday night.
“The Government of Cuba also reiterates its willingness to continue respectful dialogue and cooperation on issues of mutual interest, as well as the negotiation of pending bilateral issues with the United States Government.”
Havana also slammed the U.S. for criticizing conditions of life in Cuba while failing to address problems within its own borders.
“The United States is not in a position to give us lessons,” Cuban officials added.
“We have serious concerns about the respect and guarantees of human rights in that country, where there are numerous cases of murders, brutality and police abuses, particularly against the African American population; The right to life is violated as a result of gun deaths; Child labor is being exploited and there are serious manifestations of racial discrimination; Threatening to impose more restrictions on health services, which would leave 23 million people without health insurance; There is wage inequality between men and women; Migrants and refugees are marginalized, particularly those from Islamic countries; Is intended to erect walls that denigrate neighbors; And abandon international commitments to preserve the environment and address climate change.”
None of Trump’s changes will be effective until the the Treasury and Commerce Departments issue new regulations, which could take months.