A recent interview with Spanish broadcaster Telemundo have earned President Obama criticism over his views on Cuba. Obama suggested that Cuba’s political ideology is outdated and condemned the country’s imprisonment of public dissenters. Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s top diplomat for North America accused the president of dismissing the country’s efforts to reform its social and economic policies.
“It’s unfortunate that President Obama continues to be poorly advised and ill-informed about the Cuban reality, as well as the sentiments of his own people who desire normalization of our relationship,” Vidal said in a statement.
Cuban officials have been increasingly outspoken in their criticism of U.S.-Cuba relations, blaming years of economic turmoil on the American embargo that has continued for over 50 years. Under new leader Raul Castro, Cuba has reformed some of its most controversial policies, most recently allowing citizens to travel abroad without the previously required exit permits.
Obama said that the U.S. is open to a re-establishing its relationship with Cuba, but that “it’s got to be a two-way street.”
“It’s time to join the 21st century,” he said during the interview. “It’s one thing to have cars from the 1950s. It’s another thing when your whole political ideology … is 50 years or 60 years old and it’s been proven not to work.”
The United Nations recently condemned the United States embargo for the 21st consecutive year, with a vote of 188-3, with only Israel and Palau voting alongside the U.S. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce calculates more than a billion dollars in losses every year in prospective trade due to the embargo on Cuba.
Activist and former political prisoner Angel Moya was found ineligible for a passport this week, suggesting that Cuba is not ready to put all of its political issues in the past. Still, Vidal maintains that the U.S. “can always count on the willingness of the people and government of Cuba to work to advance bilateral relations.”