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Castro says Cuba blockade not Obama’s fault

Castro says Cuba blockade not Obama’s fault
04/11/2015 12:18 PM 04/11/2015 1:25 PM

Barack Obama declared his refusal to refight the Cold War
battles of the past on Saturday while Cuban President
rallied to his defense, absolving Obama of fault for the U.S. blockade
in a stunning reversal of more than 50 years of animosity between the
United States and Cuba.

Castro, in a meandering, nearly hour-long speech to the Summit of the
Americas, ran through an exhaustive history of perceived Cuban
grievances against the U.S. dating back more than a century – a vivid
display of how raw passions remain over American attempts to undermine
Cuba’s government.

Then, in an abrupt about face, he apologized for letting his emotions
get the best of him. He said many U.S. presidents were at fault for that
troubled history – but that Obama isn’t one of them.

“I have told President Obama that I get very emotional talking about the
revolution,” Castro said through a translator, noting that Obama wasn’t
even born when the U.S. began sanctioning the island nation. “I
apologize to him because President Obama had no responsibility for this.”

In a remarkable vote of confidence from a Cuban leader, Castro added:
“In my opinion, President Obama is an honest man.”

Castro and Obama were expected to meet later Saturday on the sidelines
of the summit – the first substantial meeting between a U.S. and Cuban
president in more than five decades. The flurry of diplomacy was aimed
at injecting fresh momentum into their previously announced plan to
restore normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Speaking just before Castro, Obama acknowledged that deep differences
between their countries would persist. Yet he said he was uninterested
in getting bogged down in ideology, instead casting the thaw in
relations as an opening to create “more opportunities and resources for
the Cuban people.”

“The United States will not be imprisoned by the past,” President Barack
Obama said. “We’re looking to the future.”

Raising the stakes even higher for the two leaders was mounting
speculation that Obama would use the occasion of the summit taking place
in Panama to announce his decision to remove Cuba from the U.S. list of
state sponsors of terrorism, a gesture that for Cuba holds both
practical and symbolic value.

The U.S. long ago stopped accusing Cuba of conducting terrorism, and
Obama has signaled that he’s ready to take Cuba off the list. On
Thursday, he suggested an announcement was imminent when he revealed
that the State Department had completed its lengthy review of the

Obama arrived at the summit Saturday morning for a day of marathon
meetings with leaders from across the Western Hemisphere, gathered
around a massive oval table with two birds of peace in the middle. He
was also to take questions from reporters before returning to Washington.

A successful relaunch of U.S.-Cuba relations would form a cornerstone of
Obama’s foreign policy legacy. But it’s an endeavor he can’t undertake
alone: Only Congress can fully lift the onerous U.S. sanctions regime on
Cuba, and there are deep pockets of opposition in the U.S. to taking
that step.

Source: Castro says Cuba blockade not Obama’s fault | Miami Herald Miami
Herald –

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