HAVANA, Oct. 1 (EFE) Raúl Castro asked U.S. President Barack Obama to use his executive power to ease the economic embargo on the island if he wants to continue making progress in normalizing relations.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez related the Cuban leader’s comment after the two presidents met at United Nations headquarters Tuesday.
“The pace of the process toward normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States will depend on the lifting of the blockade,” Rodríguez said, adding that the executive decisions taken by Obama up to now “have a very limited value, a very limited scope.”
The U.S. president has executive powers that “are very broad, and they deal with tens of areas,” and they permit him to substantially modify many elements of the embargo, the foreign minister said.
According to Rodríguez, Obama’s actions in that regard have not yet made any significant change in the embargo of Cuba.
Since the announcement last December of a process to normalize bilateral relations, Obama has suggested without success that the Republican-controlled Congress begin discussions about eliminating the economic embargo imposed on Cuba in 1962.
Castro, in his speech this Monday before the U.N. General Assembly, made it clear that the normalizing of ties will only be achieved, among other things, “with the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade” against Cuba.
In Tuesday’s meeting, the second that the two presidents have held since the normalization process got underway, the Cuban leader repeated Havana’s “willingness to work to build a new kind of relation between the two countries.”
The meeting, the foreign minister said, was held in a “respectful and constructive climate” and served to exchange impressions about Pope Francis’s visit to the two countries, cooperation in mutually beneficial areas and dealing with problems that are still pending.
Rodríguez recalled that the two countries now have an ongoing dialogue on numerous matters such as the environment, the war on drugs, search and rescue operations for people lost at sea, terrorism and health.
Cuba also said it is ready to discuss the process of economic reparations to resolve the demands that the two countries are making against each other.
The foreign minister said, however, that Washington and Havana continue having major differences.
Among other things, Rodríguez recalled that his government considers the return of the territory occupied by the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo to be a high-priority element in the normalization process.
But at the same time, he said there remains “an opportunity of making significant advances in the normalization of bilateral relations during Obama’s administration.”
Rodríguez recalled that Castro considers Obama an “honest man” and that he admires “his humble origins” and said that the meetings between the two have always been “cordial.”