CUBA — Responding to President Donald Trump’s announcement Friday that he is reversing the Obama administration’s steps to normalize relations with Cuba, the Castro government said the US is in no “condition to lecture us.”
Trump’s speech in Miami to announce the rollback was “full of hostile rhetoric,” Havana’s statement said, adding that the announced policies will “revert” the progress achieved between the two countries in the past two years.
Under the President’s executive order, the Trump administration will begin strictly enforcing the exemptions that allow travel between the US and Cuba and prohibit commerce with Cuban businesses owned by the military and intelligence services. Trump also directed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to convene a task force on expanding Internet access on the island and reiterated the United States’ opposition to efforts in the United Nations to lift the Cuban embargo until more is done to honor human rights.
During his speech, Trump slammed Cuba for human rights abuses, saying, “The Castro regime has shipped arms to North Korea and fueled chaos in Venezuela. While imprisoning innocents, it has harbored cop killers, hijackers and terrorists. It has supported human trafficking, forced labor and exploitation all around the globe.”
The Cuban government rebuked those statements in a lengthy response Friday, writing that Trump’s executive order betrays a double standard on human rights.
“We have deep concerns by the respect and the guaranties of the human rights in that country, where there is a large number of cases of murder, brutality and police abuse, particularly against the African Americans; the right to live is violated as a result of deaths by firearms,” the statement read.
It went on to list a litany of concerns: racial discrimination, salary inequality between genders, the marginalization of immigrants and refugees from Islamic and other countries, Trump’s proposed wall on the southern border, his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, the imprisonment of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, the killing of US and foreign citizens in drone attacks, the preface for and conduct of the wars in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries, and estimates that the Republican health care bill would cause 23 million people to lose medical insurance.
The Cuban government also called the Trump’s executive order a “backward step,” saying the administration was resorting to “coercive methods from the past” in taking steps to strengthen the embargo.
“The US President, ill-advised once again, takes decisions that favor the political interests of an extremist minority of Cuban origin in the state of Florida, who driven by petty motivation, do not desist from their objective to punish Cuba and its people for exercising the legitimate and sovereign right to be free and for having taken the reins of their own destiny,” the statement said.
Trump said Friday that any easement of restrictions on doing US business in Cuba would have to wait until political prisoners are freed and fair elections are held.
“This is the simple truth of the Castro regime,” Trump said. “My administration will not hide from it, excuse it or glamorize it. And we will never, ever be blind to it. We know what’s going on and we remember what happened.”
Applauding the Cuban dissidents in the audience, some of whom were tortured by the Castro regime, Trump pledged to “expose” the Cuban dictatorship for its human rights abuses.