Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez slammed U.S. President Donald Trump's policy reversal against Cuba Monday as a "grotesque spectacle," arguing that the move will affect U.S. citizens and result in the opposite of what Washington seeks by ultimately strengthening Cuba's resolve to defend its sovereignty.
Speaking at a press conference in Vienna, Austria Rodriguez said the new U.S. policies that restrict travel and trade with Cuba came as a setback for bilateral relations, which have increasingly normalized since a historic thaw began at the end of 2014 after decades of frozen ties. The foreign minister added that the move will "gravely harm foreign policy" and "reinforces our patriotism and our will to defend the Cuban revolution" on the Caribbean island.
"It is unjust, inhumane, genocidal, and against the sovereignty of all states,” Rodriguez said
He said the Trump administration has been poorly advised in its decision to rollback former President Barack Obama's Cuba policies, which he described as a move that ignores the widespread support for the lifting the blockade and normalization of relations with Cuba, even by Republicans in Congress.
He added that the decision will restrict U.S. citizens' liberties and opportunities for companies, leading to loss of income and jobs and a rise in taxes, while only serving the interests of a minority.
Rodriguez reiterated the will of the Cubans to have a dialogue with the U.S. with respect for Havana's sovereignty. "We will never negotiate under pressure or threat," he said.
He added that Obama did not make concessions towards the island, as Trump alleges, and even advanced the interests of the U.S. during negotiations that led to historic changes in bilateral ties, including the reopening of Cuban and U.S. embassies in Washington and Havana, among other developments.
When asked about a new possible deal with the Trump administration, Rodriguez said the best deal would be to lift the blockade and return to Cuba the territory of Guantanamo, the site of a U.S. military prison since 2002 and first occupied as a U.S. naval base in 1898. Cuba has long argued that the normalization of ties with the United States will not be complete until these two conditions are fulfilled.
The foreign minister said that it was "outrageous" that during Trump's announcement of the new policies he was accompanied by known terrorists and former CIA agents working against Cuba.
“It's an attack against Cuba, the world and the victims of international terrorism around the world,” the official said. He also said these decisions alter the world order and are cause for concern among the international community.
Rodriguez also said that Havana will not answer Washington's call to return to the U.S. people who have sought political asylum in Cuba, such as Assata Shakur.
"Cuba conceded political asylum or refuge to U.S. fighters for civil rights," Rodriguez said. "These persons will not be returned to the United States."