Cuban ambassador decries Trump’s roll back of Obama policy

Cuban Ambassador to Guyana, Julio Cesar Gonzalez Marchante

CUBAN Ambassador to Guyana, Julio Cesar Gonzalez Marchante, described US President Donald Trump recent speech and directive as ill-advised, resulting in the roll-back of progress achieved over the last two years.

On December 17, 2014, Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama announced the decision to re-establish diplomatic relations and engage in a process towards the normalisation of bilateral relations. However, the Cuban envoy said on June 16, 2017, US President Donald Trump delivered a speech, “full of hostile anti-Cuban rhetoric, reminiscent of the times of open confrontation with our country in a Miami theater.”

Adding that President Trump signed a policy directive titled, “National Security Presidential Memorandum”, Ambassador Marchante said this provides the elimination of private educational “people-to-people” exchanges and greater control over all travellers to Cuba.

He explained that this will also result in the prohibition of business, trade and financial transactions between US companies and certain Cuban companies linked to the Armed Revolutionary Forces and the intelligence and security services, under the alleged objective of depriving Cuba from income.

The Cuban envoy said the US president justified this policy with alleged concerns over the human rights situation in Cuba and the need to rigorously enforce the US blockade laws, conditioning its lifting, as well as any improvements in US-Cuba bilateral relations to our country’s making changes inherent to its constitutional order. “Once again, the US Government resorts to coercive methods of the past when it adopts measures aimed at stepping up the blockade, effective since February 1962, which not only causes harm and deprivations to the Cuban people and is the main obstacle to our economic development, but also affects the sovereignty and interests of other countries, which arouses international rejection,” the diplomat said.

He said the measures announced impose additional obstacles to the already very limited opportunities that the US business sector had in order to trade with and invest in Cuba. “Likewise, those measures restrict even more the right of US citizens to visit our country, which was already limited due to the obligation of using discriminatory licenses, at a moment when the US Congress, echoing the feelings of broad sectors of that society, calls not only for an end to the travel ban, but also for the elimination of the restrictions on the trade with Cuba,” Ambassador Marchante noted.

He emphasised that the measures announced by President Trump run counter to the majority support of the US public opinion, including the Cuban emigration in that country, to the total lifting of the blockade and the establishment of normal relations between Cuba and the United States.

“The US President, who has been once again ill-advised, is taking decisions that favour the political interests of an irrational minority of Cuban origin in the state of Florida which, out of petty motivations, does not give up its intent to punish Cuba and its people for exercising the legitimate and sovereign right of being free and having taken the reins of their own destiny,” he added.

He explained that the Government of Cuba reiterates its will to continue a respectful and cooperative dialogue on topics of mutual interest, as well as the negotiation of outstanding issues with the US Government.