WASHINGTON – U.S. President Barack Obama will not take measures to ease the embargo on Cuba unless the government of Havana makes significant progress in democratic and economic reforms, said his deputy national security advisor, Antony Blinken.
Blinken made the comment on Wednesday when Cuban-American senator, Democrat Marco Rubio asked him about rumors that Obama was going to use executive measures to relax part of the economic embargo on Cuba.
“Unless Cuba is able to demonstrate that it is taking meaningful steps to move forward, I don’t see how can we move forward in the relationship,” Blinken said.
He added that the President had ideas to help move Cuba in a democratic direction, but it all depends on Cuba and its actions.
The deputy national security advisor has been nominated by Obama to become the State Department’s number two and was appearing before a Senate panel for his confirmation hearings.
U.S. academic and political circles have been debating the possibility of normalizing relationships with Cuba, a country with which the U.S. ended its diplomatic ties in 1961 and on which economic and trade embargo were imposed in 1962.
Blinken said that the “unjust imprisonment” in Cuba of American subcontractor Alan Gross since 2009 was also an obstacle for improving ties.
In the Senate hearing, another Cuban senator, Democrat Bob Menendez, said that Cuba should not be allowed to attend the 2015 Summit of the Americas to be held in Panama.
The U.S. government has yet to confirm it will attend the summit but argues that Cuba should not be permitted as it does not comply with democratic ideals.