HAVANA – The Cuban government said on Friday that any attempt to change the political system on the island would be destined to fail, after US President Donald Trump announced he would be revoking his predecessor’s executive orders easing restrictions on US travel and investment in Cuba.
In a statement, Cuban President Raul Castro responded to Trump’s announcement that he was rolling back the deal Barack Obama had made with the Communist regime in December 2014.
“Any strategy aimed at changing the political, economic and social system in Cuba, whether it seeks to achieve it through pressures and impositions, or by employing more subtle methods, will be doomed to failure,” Castro said.
While he acknowledged that changes in Cuba were necessary, pointing to the ongoing process of modernizing and developing the island’s economic and socialist model, he insisted that Cubans would decide its own fate independent of foreign influence.
“We will assume any risk and remain firm and secure in building a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation,” the statement said.
The Cuban government’s statement added that the US president had been “poorly advised” to favor the political interests of an “extremist minority” of Cuban-Americans living in Florida who, because of “petty motivations, will not give up on their ambition of punishing Cuba and its people.”
Earlier on Friday, Trump had addressed a mostly Cuban-American audience in Miami, saying that “I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” vowing to “seek a much better deal for the Cuban people and for the United States of America.”
At the same time, he said that the US Embassy in Havana would remain open.
Castro also responded to Trump’s statement that the White House would “not lift sanctions until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of expression are respected, all political parties are legalized and internationally recognized free elections are held.”
The Cuban leader said that “the United States is not in a position to give us lessons,” voicing “serious concerns” on the “numerous cases of murders, brutality and police abuses, the exploitation of child labor, racial discrimination and restrictions on healthcare services.”
In December 2014, the former Cold War enemies announced the start of the process of normalizing relations after decades of hostility and the US economic embargo against Cuba, culminating the initial stage of their bilateral thaw by upgrading their respective interests sections to embassies in July 2015.
Among other things, the thaw included steps by Obama’s White House to make it easier for US citizens to travel to and do business with Cuba – though a ban on visits purely for tourism remained in place – and the removal of the island from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list.