RIO DE JANEIRO – Cuban President Raul Castro confirmed Wednesday that his government is ready to talk with the United States about any subject, but under conditions of equality, Brazil’s official Estado news agency reported.
“We want to discuss with the government of the United States all the problems that they want to (talk about). I repeat it three times: all, all, all. But we will only accept if it is in absolute equality,” Castro said while showing Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva around the port of Mariel, near Havana.
In any potential dialogue, Washington “can ask about anything, but we also want to ask about all the problems of the United States,” Castro said.
Castro acknowledged that “maximum freedom of expression” does not exist on the island, but he attributed that problem to Washington.
“Here there is not the maximum freedom of expression. That is true. But if the United States would leave us alone, there could be that maximum freedom,” he said, according to Estado.
In like manner, Castro blamed the death of Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died Tuesday after an 85-day hunger strike, on the relationship with the United States, though he did not explain the nature of U.S. responsibility.
Lula, meanwhile, avoided commenting on the death of Zapata, whose viewing will be held Wednesday in Banes, in his native eastern province of Holguin.
Castro and Lula will meet later Wednesday at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana to sign several cooperation accords.
The United States broke diplomatic relations with Cuba not long after the 1959 revolution led by Fidel Castro, who formally retired two years ago in favor of younger brother Raul.
Washington imposed a comprehensive economic and trade embargo on the communist-ruled island in 1962, and the CIA has admitted to mounting several efforts to assassinate Fidel Castro. EFE