Cuban diplomats respond to President Donald Trump's 'hostile rhetoric'
Cuban diplomats say U.S. is not in a position to teach lessons on human rights
MIAMI – The Cuban military senT a message to President Donald Trump warning him that his new strategy to change the Communist island is "doomed to failure."
Trump was in Miami on Friday to announce that he was reinstating the restrictions on travel to Cuba and banning any business dealings with the Cuban military, which controls the tourism industry.
After the event in Miami's Little Havana, Cuban diplomats released a statement on their website late Friday.
"The government of Cuba reiterates its willingness to continue a respectful dialog and cooperation on themes of mutual interest, as well as negotiations on pending bilateral matters," the statement said.
Former President Barack Obama's move to reinstate diplomatic relations Dec. 17, 2014 remained in place with both embassies in Havana and Washington open. Trump also agreed not to reinstate the "wet-foot dry-foot" policy that allowed Cuban migrants to have a straight path to legalization upon touching U.S. land.
In response to Trump's concern about human rights violations on the island, the Cuban diplomats said the U.S. is no condition to give them lessons.
"We have serious worries about the respect for and guarantees for human rights in that country," the statement said.
Cuban diplomats cited police killings and police brutality, racial discrimination, child labor, firearm deaths, salary inequality, the marginalization of refugees and the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change as reasons why Trump was in no position to judge Cuba.
The Cuban officials added that Trump's restrictions and "hostile rhetoric" are "hardening the embargo" and are based on the view of a minority of Cuban Americans and not on the preference of the majority of Americans who they say would rather see the embargo lifted.
Among those with Trump as he announced the policy in Little Havana were Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, both Florida Republicans strongly opposed to Obama’s outreach. Outside of Miami, Trump faced opposition in the U.S. agricultural sector.
Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., said Trump’s shift is more than just a missed opportunity for rural America, which would benefit from greater access to Cuba’s agricultural import market. He said Trump’s policy may put U.S. national security at risk as strategic competitors move to fill the vacuum the uncoupling could create.
"Further U.S. disengagement opens up opportunities for countries like Iran, Russia, North Korea and China to gain influence on an island 90 miles off our coast," Crawford said.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a frequent critic of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, said in a statement that any policy change "that diminishes the ability of Americans to travel freely to Cuba is not in the best interests of the United States or the Cuban people."
Flake has been among the most outspoken lawmakers opposed to rolling back Obama’s outreach to Havana. He’s warned that returning to a "get tough" policy hurts everyday Cubans whose livelihoods are increasingly rooted in travel and tourism.
In his statement, Flake called for the Senate’s GOP leadership to allow a vote on his legislation that he said would eliminate “archaic restrictions” on travel to Cuba that “do not exist for travel by Americans to any other country in the world.” Flake’s bill has 54 co-sponsors, including nine Republicans. Among them are Sens. John Boozman of Arkansas, Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Jerry Moran of Kansas.
Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., said Trump’s new Cuba policy “will hurt the United States economically, making it harder for our nation’s farmers to access new markets and cutting the knees out from under our travel and manufacturing industries.”
Emmer, who’s been one of Trump’s most enthusiastic backers on Capitol Hill, echoed Crawford’s criticism, saying Trump’s Cuba directive appears to be in violation of his promise to keep the American homeland safe. Emmer, Crawford and five other House Republicans have warned that rolling back U.S. Cuba policy could threaten new bilateral agreements with Havana to combat human trafficking, illicit drugs and cyber crimes.
Moran said in a statement that “putting America first means exporting what we produce to countries across the globe.” He said he remains focused on finding ways to “increase trade with Cuba rather than cut off relationships that have the potential to create new jobs, bring in revenue and boost our national economy.”
Moran backs legislation to restore trade with Cuba in addition to supporting Flake’s legislation.
Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said Trump’s policy moves the U.S. backward.
"It would be more effective to continue an open line of communication and working relationship with a government in need of democratic assistance, instead of shutting them out," Boozman said. "Through this approach, we not only trade goods, but ideas."
The Associated Press' Richard Lardner contributed to this story.
The full statement by the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Cuba
On June 16th, 2017, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, in a speech full of hostile rhetoric given at a theater in Miami, which reminded the times of open confrontation with our country, announced the policy of his government towards Cuba which reverts the progress achieved in the past two years, after that on December 17th, 2014 the presidents Raúl Castro Ruz and Barack Obama made public the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations and start a process towards the normalization of bilateral ties.
In what is a backward step in the relationship between the two countries, Trump made a speech and signed in the same event, a policy directive titled “National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba” setting forth the elimination of the individual “people to people” educational exchanges, an increased oversight of US travelers to Cuba and the prohibition of economic, commercial and financial transactions by US companies with Cuban companies linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the intelligence and security agencies, all with the intended purpose of depriving us of income. The US head of state justified this policy with alleged concerns for the human rights situation in Cuba and the necessity to strictly enforce the laws of the blockade, conditioning its lifting and any improvement in the bilateral relations to our country’s making changes inherent to its constitutional laws.
Trump also repealed the Presidential Policy Directive “United States-Cuba Normalization”, issued by President Obama on October 14th, 2016, which even though it did not hide the meddling nature of the US policy and the objective to advance the US interests in the economic, political and social achievements of our country, it also recognized Cuba’s independence, sovereignty and self-determination, the Cuban government as a legitimate and equal interlocutor and the benefits that a relationship of civilized coexistence would bring to both countries and peoples despite the big differences existing between the two governments. It also admitted that the blockade was an outdated policy and that it should be lifted.
Once more, the US government resorts to coercive methods from the past, by adopting measures to strengthen the blockade in effect since February 1962, which not only brings damage and privations to the Cuban people, and is an undeniable hindrance to the development of our economy, but also affects the sovereignty and the interest of other countries, thus provoking international condemnation.
The measures announced impose additional hindrances to the very limited opportunities that the US business sector had to engage in trade and invest in Cuba.
Likewise, they further restrict the right of US citizens to visit our country, which is already limited by the obligation to use discriminatory licenses at times when the US Congress, as a reflection of what large sectors of that society feel, demands not only the lifting of the travel ban, but also of the restrictions to trade with Cuba.
The announcements made by President Trump contradict the majority support of the US public opinion, including the Cuban emigration in that country, to the lifting of the blockade and in favor of normal relations between the United States and Cuba.
Instead, 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.
Afterwards, we will make a deeper analysis of the scope and implications of this announcement.
The Government of Cuba denounces the new measures for strengthening the blockade, which are destined to fail as proven repeatedly in the past. They will not achieve their purpose of debilitating the Revolution or submitting the Cuban people, whose resistance to the aggressions of any kind and origin has been proven throughout six decades.
The Cuban government condemns the manipulation with political purposes and the double standards in the treatment of the human rights issue. The Cuban people enjoys the fundamental rights and liberties and shows achievements it takes pride of and which are a dream for many countries in the world, including the United States itself, such as the right to health, education, social security, equal salary for equal job, the human rights of children, and the right to food, peace and development. With its modest resources, Cuba has contributed also to the improvement of the human rights in many places of the world, despite the limitations imposed by its condition of being a blockaded country.
The United States are not in the condition to lecture us. 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. Child labor is exploited and there are serious manifestations of racial discriminations. There are threats to impose further restrictions to health services that would left more than 23 million people without medical insurance. There is salary inequality between men and women. Immigrants and refugees are marginalized, particularly those from Islamic countries. There is the intention of erecting walls that degrade neighbors and international commitments to preserve the environment and fight climate change are abandoned.
Also grounds for concern are the violations of human rights by the United States in other countries, such as the arbitrary detentions of dozens of prisoners in the territory illegally occupied by the US Naval Base in Guantánamo, Cuba, where even tortures have taken place, the extrajudicial executions and death of civilians caused by bombs and the use of drones; and the wars unleashed against different countries like Iraq, sustained in lies about the possessions of weapons of massive destruction, with disastrous consequences for peace, security and the stability of the Middle East region.
We recall that Cuba is a State Party of the 44 international instruments on human rights, while the United States is only a State Party of 18; therefore we have a lot to show, say and defend.
By confirming the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations, Cuba and the United States reaffirmed the intention to develop respectful and cooperative relations between both peoples and governments, based in the principles and purposes enshrined in the UN Charter. In its Statement issued on July 1st, 2015, the Cuban Revolutionary Government reaffirmed that “these relations should be based on the absolute respect to our Independence and sovereignty; the inalienable right of every State to choose the political, economic, social and cultural system, without any kind of interference; and the sovereign equality and reciprocity which are principles of the International Law that cannot be waved ”, as endorsed by the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by the Heads of State and of Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in its 2nd Summit held in Havana. Cuba has not renounced to those principles and it never will.
The Government of Cuba reaffirms its resolve to continue the respectful dialogue and the cooperation in matters of common interest, as well as the negotiation of pending bilateral issues with the Government of the United States. In the past two years, it has been proven that the two countries, as expressed on several occasions by the President of the Council of State and of Ministers, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, Cuba and the United States can cooperate and coexist in a civilized way by respecting the differences and promoting all which benefits both nations and peoples, but it should not be expected that for this Cuba should make concessions inherent to its sovereignty and independence or accept conditions of any kind.
Any strategy intended to change the political, economic and social system in Cuba, whether it is a strategy that tries to achieve so through pressures or the use of more subtle methods, will be condemned to fail.
The changes that are necessary in Cuba, as those made since 1959 and the ones we are making now as part of the process to update our economic and social model, will continue to be decided sovereignly by the Cuban people.
As we have done since the triumph on January 1st, 1959, we will take any risks and continue to be firm and confident in the construction of a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation.
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