Cuba’s President Raul Castro has demanded the US respects his country’s communist system.
As the two countries work to restore diplomatic ties, Castro warned that Cuban-American exiles might try to sabotage the reconciliation.
“In the same way that we have never demanded that the United States change its political system, we will demand respect for ours”, Castro told the National Assembly.
He praised US President Barack Obama for his policy change.
“We do not ignore the bitter criticisms that President Obama has had to endure because of the said announcements by forces that are opposed to the normalisation of relations with Cuba.”
Obama has pledged to remove economic sanctions against Cuba but he still needs the Republican-controlled Congress to lift the embargo.
Younger Cuban-Americans tend to support Obama’s new approach, while older people with memories of Castro’s regime are generally against it.
Anti-Castro protesters and exiles gathered in Miami, Florida to show their opposition to Obama’s plan to reinstate relations with the communist-ruled island.
“I think that what is happening is nothing but a surrender from this administration to prevent democracy reaching Cuba,” said Ninoska Perez Castellon, Radio Mambi commentator. “It’s making concessions for a dictatorship that is not willing to make changes.”
Cubans have treated the end of open US hostility as a triumph. The country has suffered decades of hardship, and the United Nations has consistently condemned the embargo. Among other things, it restricts Cubans’ access to medicines, affordable food and building materials.