Cuba rejects Trump’s call for negotiations on human rights
September 29, 2016
HAVANA (AP) — A top Cuban diplomat on Wednesday rejected Donald Trump’s
threat to undo detente with Cuba unless the single-party government
meets the Republican presidential candidate’s demands.
Trump said in Miami this month that he would reverse President Barack
Obama’s executive orders loosening the U.S. trade embargo on the island
unless Cuba meets demands including “religious and political freedom for
the Cuban people and the freeing of political prisoners.”
Gustavo Machin, Cuba’s deputy director of U.S. affairs, said Cuba would
never be pressured into making internal reforms, and he said whoever is
the next U.S. president should respect Cuba’s right to self-determination.
“Cuba has always made clear that Cuba’s internal matters aren’t on the
negotiating table,” Machin told reporters. “They’re a function of
internal decisions by Cuba and the Cuban people and we really call on
the next president of the United States to stick to those principles.
They’re not Cuba’s principles; they’re principles of international law.”
The U.S. and Cuba have held several rounds of talks on human rights
since the restart of diplomatic relations. Neither country has said
whether the talks have produced any concrete results. Talks on
less-controversial issues like health and the environment have produced
a series of bilateral agreements.
Turning to business matters, Machin urged Obama to issue a final round
of orders loosening the trade embargo before the fifth and last major
round of negotiations at the end of this year. The fourth round will
take place Friday in Washington.
Machin also praised Obama’s nomination of Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the
charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, as the first U.S.
ambassador to Cuba in more than 50 years.
“It’s a decision in keeping with the commitments that both countries
made and the aim of the United States and its diplomatic mission in
being represented here at the highest possible level,” he said.
Laying out Cuba’s wish list for the end of the Obama administration,
Machin said Cuba believed the president could permit more U.S. exports
to Cuba and more Cuban sales to the United States, and allow American
investments in Cuba beyond an exception for telecommunications companies
carved out at the beginning of the process.
He also said Cuba remains frustrated by banks’ unwillingness to deal
with Cuba, particularly in dollar transactions that were long prohibited
by the U.S. embargo and related restrictions.
Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: twitter.com/mweissenstein
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