“The conditions are there for Obama to use his talent for a constructive policy to put an end to what has failed for almost half-a-century,” Castro, 82, wrote in a “reflection” published on the Cubadebate.cu website. “The only thing left is for Obama to try to persuade all of the Latin American presidents attending the conference that the blockade is harmless.”
“(Obama) has announced the relief of some hateful restrictions imposed by Bush to Cubans living in the United States regarding their visits to relatives in Cuba...But not a word was said about the harshest of measures: the blockade,” Castro said, calling the blockade, “a truly genocidal measure.”
But while he called on Obama to raise the embargo, he acknowledged that Obama was not to blame for the actions of his predecessors. “Our country...neither blames Obama for the atrocities of other US administrations nor doubts his sincerity and wishes to change the United States policy and image. We understand that he waged a very difficult battle to be elected, despite centuries-old prejudices.” Castro, who handed power to his brother Raul Castro last year, said the Cuban government is willing to normalize relations with the US.
“Taking note of this reality, the President of the State Council of Cuba has expressed his willingness to have a dialogue with Obama and to normalise relations with the United States, on the basis of the strictest respect for the sovereignty of our country.”
The move by Castro will likely maintain pressure on the US administration to deal with the issue of Cuba at this week’s Summit of the Americas, even as it emerged that the Brazilian president Lula da Silva is to diffuse tensions on the issue at the upcoming summit. Da Silva is well-known for his public backing of Obama.
“What the president (Da Silva) wants is that the issue causes no embarrassments for Obama, with whom he is genuinely enchanted,” Brazilian government sources were quoted as saying.
Chavez has been vocal in calling for Cuba to be included in the summit and for the Cuban issue to be placed on the agenda.
He will host a summit of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of our America (ALBA), a group of nations which comprises members of the Organisation of American States (OAS), a day before the summit. Yesterday, Chavez met with Colombia President Alvaro Uribe in Caracas “to review bilateral relations”.