BELEN, Costa Rica (AFP) – Cuban President Raul Castro laid out conditions Wednesday to normalise relations with the United States, demanding an end to the US embargo, the return of Guantanamo and Havana’s removal from a terror list.
Castro issued his demands a week after the highest-ranking US delegation to Havana in 35 years and Cuban officials held landmark talks aimed at reopening embassies and renewing ties that broke off in 1961.
Cuba has long blamed the embargo for the communist island’s economic woes, with billboards in the country equating the decades-old economic sanctions to a “genocide.”
Speaking at a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Costa Rica, Castro said the “main problem” remains the “blockade” and that the road to ending it would be “long and hard.”
“The establishment of diplomatic relations is the beginning of a process toward the normalisation of bilateral relations, but this (normalisation) won’t be possible as long as the blockade exists.”
US President Barack Obama called on Congress last week to put an end to the embargo, which was imposed in 1962 and has been a major source of tension between the Cold War-era rivals since then.
Earlier this month, Obama used his executive powers to ease travel and trade restrictions with Havana, putting a dent on the embargo.