Cuba willing to rebuild relations with the US despite “profound differences”

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said Wednesday before the 77th UN General Assembly that the Cuban government is “willing” to rebuild relations with the United States despite “the deep differences” of more than half a century with its historical enemy.

“Cuba reiterates its willingness to move towards a better understanding with the United States government and develop civilized relations and even cooperation between both countries based on mutual respect, sovereign equality and without undermining our independence and sovereignty, despite profound differences,” said the island’s foreign minister.

At the same time, Rodríguez cataloged as “a positive step” the reestablishment of the visa processing from Havana announced this Wednesday, although he reiterated the criticism against Washington for its economic embargo against the island.

“Cuba, a small island developing state, has paid a high price for defending its legitimate right to exist as a sovereign and independent nation. For more than six decades we have resisted a ruthless and unilateral economic, commercial and financial blockade, which has intensified extremely to unprecedented levels since 2019 and during the pandemic,” said the foreign minister.

Cuba and the United States reestablished diplomatic relations during the government of Barack Obama, but relations hit rock bottom again during the term of Donald Trump, due to unclarified incidents at the Havana embassy that put the health of US diplomats and their families.

The US government stopped processing immigrant visas in 2017. On Wednesday, the United States announced that the embassy will have additional staff to process immigrant visas beginning in 2023.

Under the agreements with Cuba, the United States has agreed to allow legal immigration of at least 20,000 Cubans per year, excluding immediate relatives of US citizens.

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Irregular immigration of Cubans to the United States increased considerably in the last year, according to data released Monday by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP). US authorities made 19,057 arrests of Cubans trying to enter the country in August, four times as many as in August 2021.

Foreign Minister rejects inclusion of Cuba in the list of sponsors of terrorism

The island’s highest-ranking diplomat rejected the inclusion of Cuba in the group of countries identified by the United States as sponsors of terrorism and said that it is “an arbitrary and unilateral list.”

He said that this inclusion and what it implies is causing strong impacts for Cuba, prevented for that reason from applying for loans or accessing financial facilities.

Support for Venezuela and other ideological allies

The Cuban foreign minister took advantage of the UN framework to reiterate the support and solidarity of his communist government to President Nicolás Maduro, his main ally, and rejected the “coercive” measures against that nation.

He also offered his support to the Nicaraguan government led by Daniel Ortega and which is singled out for human rights abuses and for putting democracy in the Central American nation in crisis.

At the same time, he expressed solidarity with the Vice President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, indicating that she is suffering from unjust judicial harassment that led to an attempt on her life.

The Cuban foreign minister rejected the sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine and called for a solution to that war.

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