Cuba expects next president to lift embargo
Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2008 9:29 pm
By EDITH M. LEDERER
Associated Press Writer
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Cuba’s foreign minister says his government expects the next U.S. president to respond to overwhelming international demand and lift the 47-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.
After the U.N. General Assembly supported repeal of the economic and commercial embargo by its highest margin ever — 185 to 3 with 2 abstentions — on Wednesday, Felipe Perez Roque said in an interview that the winner of Tuesday’s election should heed the message.
“We expect that the new president will change the policy toward Cuba after nearly 50 years,” he told the Associated Press.
The United States has no diplomatic relations with Cuba, lists the country as a state sponsor of terror and has long sought to isolate it through travel restrictions and a trade embargo. The embargo, imposed in 1962, has been tightened during President Bush’s two terms.
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has said he would be willing to meet with Cuban leader Raul Castro without preconditions and would ease restrictions on family related travel and on money Cuban-Americans want to send to their families in Cuba.
Republican nominee John McCain has called the offer to meet “the wrong signal,” but also has said he favors easing restrictions on Cuba once the United States is “confident that the transition to a free and open democracy is being made.”
Perez Roque said the vote in the 192-member General Assembly was “a clear signal of the feeling of the international community in favor of the normalization of the relations between the United States and Cuba, and in favor of the lifting of the embargo.”
Following the U.S. election, he said, “we hope for the full normalization in the relations between Cuba and the United States.”
He said Cuba proposed to the Bush administration acting together against drug trafficking, human smuggling and illegal immigration but this proved impossible “because the current government is opposed and its policy towards Cuba is a change of regime.”
He said Cuban President Raul Castro has said on several occasions “that we are ready to begin conversation between both parties, of course based on respect, sovereignty and the right of each country to follow its own way.”
In his speech to the General Assembly, the 43-year-old Cuban minister said the U.S. embargo is older than “everyone in my generation.”
“Seven out of every 10 Cubans have spent their entire lives under this irrational and useless policy which attempts, with no success, to bring our people to their knees,” Perez Roque said.
The new president “should decide whether he will admit that the blockade is a failed policy that … causes greater isolation and discrediting of his country” or whether the United States will continue “to try to defeat the Cuban people through hunger and disease,” he said.