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October 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russia hopes the U.S. administration will lift the economic embargo on Cuba, a deputy Russian envoy told the UN General Assembly.
"We believe that preservation of a trade, economic and financial blockade of Cuba on the part of the United States is counterproductive, is an anachronism and does not meet current realia," Mikhail Savostyanov said Wednesday.
Under Barack Obama, the U.S. has loosened money transfer and travel restrictions on Americans with relatives in Cuba, but demanded political and economic reforms from the country as condition for lifting the embargo
The vote was 187-3, with two abstentions, as the United Nations once again denounced the U.S. embargo of Cuba.
``Here we go again,'' Ambassador Susan Rice said. ``I suppose old habits die hard . . . We will not respond in kind to painfully familiar rhetoric that we have heard in years past -- rather, I am prepared to acknowledge that there is a new chapter to this old story.''
She stressed that the Obama administration had renewed family visits to the island and loosened restrictions on U.S. telecommunications companies to do business in Cuba. Talks are under way for direct mail and migration, she said, and the American companies last year sold Cuba some $700 million in food. In 2008, the United States was Cuba's No. 5 trade partner.
The time has come to join with our brothers in Cuba in a spirit of prosperity & growth. Forget about the criminals they sent to out shores. Forget about the boat refugees still trying to escape. Hug your Cuban brother with true liberal love!
The United States first imposed a trade embargo on Cuba on February 3, 1962, in response to Castro's confiscation of privately owned properties and other productive assets, as well as his aggressive support for violent communist revolution throughout the Western Hemisphere. The original goals of the embargo were to compel Castro to open Cuba's economy and establish democracy, to weaken Cuba's communist regime, and to force Castro to relinquish power. From the beginning, however, many industrialized countries have refused to cooperate with U.S. policy towards communist Cuba and have continued to maintain diplomatic and trade relations with the dictatorship. This includes such important U.S. partners as Canada and Mexico.
The basic orientation of the hard-liners surrounding Castro is to contain and restrict all initiatives that unleash individual entrepreneurship and creativity. For example, the government has arrested people for earning "too much" money in the dollarized informal economy, the variety of legally permitted "family businesses" has been restricted, and tax rates on the income of self- employed Cubans have been increased. Moreover, Cuba's constitution and legislation specifically prohibit all private initiative, notwithstanding recent reforms allowing self-employment by Cubans in approximately 140 categories of economic activity from which all professionals (the core of any middle class) are expressly barred. For over three decades, the regime has operated on the basis of divide and rule. Castro's bitter enmity toward the Cuban exile community precludes the possibility of replicating in the Caribbean what China's exile community has accomplished in China.
"Now let me be clear. John McCain's been going around the country talking about how much I want to meet with Raul Castro, as if I'm looking for a social gathering. That's never what I've said, and John McCain knows it," Obama explained.
"We are prepared to have a dialogue with the government of the United States at any level," the foreign minister told AP after the vote, adding that such talks must be held on the basis of mutual respect and sovereignty.
He reiterated that Cuba formally offered in July to hold expanded talks with the United States to cooperate in combatting terrorism and drug trafficking, and to work together to fight natural disasters, among other things.
"We are waiting for the North American response," Rodriguez said. He also said Cuba has been pleased by progress of ongoing talks on migration and re-establishing direct mail service. He called those discussions "productive and respectful."
"The blockade is an uncultured act of arrogance," Rodriguez said. He likened the policy to "an act of genocide" that is "ethically unacceptable."
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice reacted strongly, calling the Cuban diplomat's statements "hostile" and "straight out of the Cold War era." "Here we go again," she said of Rodriguez's speech. "I suppose old habits die hard."
Also, one must wonder if the slow 'thawing' of relations and easing of certain embargo restrictions possibly due to the ailing health and age of F. Castro and the positioning for embargo lift upon his death? Does it matter if F. Castro dies considering R. Castro (though some say is more moderate) will continue his charge... I'm sure there is some plan on [brothers] Castro part for a successor who is likely to be of similar ideology..
As Cuba's president, Raul Castro has made clear he intends to govern differently than his brother Fidel. He's favoring practical policies over ideology, and he's encouraging Cubans to air their grievances about the government. Fidel Castro was more likely to scold them. Whether the new reforms are meaningful is a matter of debate.
The shortage of basic food products at affordable prices is one of the big complaints in Cuba. Raul Castro has said over and over that he is determined to improve the quality of daily life for Cubans. He is not a charismatic leader, and if he is to maintain any support for his government, he will have to deliver on that commitment. In a speech last summer, he promised "structural changes" in the economic system to improve production. Agriculture is his top priority.
Besides, Cuban cigars are way too expensive and difficult to obtain right now. I'm down to my last two.
Perhaps the easing of the travel restrictions [for family] will help to move it along faster... many 'younger' generations will have grown up in the US and may have a more modern approach to the future. Ideally, just by returning to the island to visit family members will bring some much needed influence to the direction Cuba may go in the future. Also, additional influx of money and resources.
UNITED NATIONS - The Cuban government considers US President Barack Obama’s decision to end restrictions on Cuban-Americans’ travel and remittances to the island to be “insufficient”, Havana’s diplomatic representatives said here. “The media and diplomatic offensive implemented by the US government could induce some, mistakenly, to believe that the dismantling of the embargo has begun,” Cuba’s delegation to the UN said in a statement. The measures adopted by Washington “repair, in part, a serious injustice, … (but) they are insufficient and of very limited scope” because they return “to the situation existing in … family relations in the year 2004, when the embargo against Cuba was in full force”, the Cuban mission said. The US restrictions were ended Sep 3, when the Treasury Department issued new regulations stipulating that US citizens with “close family” on the island, such as aunts and uncles, and first and second cousins, can visit Cuba as many times as they like and remain for any amount of time with no US restriction. About 1.5 million Americans have family on the communist-ruled island.