20 July 2016
A top Cuban diplomat accused the Obama administration of not doing enough to dismantle the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and said the United States wants to turn Cuba into an “appendix” of the United States.
In a half-hour interview held in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of resumed U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations, Emilio R. Garcia Lozada, the Cuban ambassador in Russia, told Russian television that dialog between U.S. and Cuban leaders may have been restored, but that the “major obstacles” behind two generations of hostility remain the same.
“The United States has changed its methods, but its objectives remain the same,” Lozada told Russian television station, RT. “Destroy the Cuban revolution and convert Cuba into an appendix of the United States.”
The strong language reflects the lingering tensions between the two nations. Both Lozada and U.S. leaders said they always knew rapprochement would be long and difficult, but Lozada’s strong language – particularly on such a momentous occasion such as the one year anniversary – reflects just how tough and unpredictable the road ahead is for the two nations that have yet to put their differences behind them.
In addition to the U.S. embargo, or blockade as Cubans refer to it, Lozada cited the Guantanamo Bay naval base, which he described as “illegally occupied territory,” and the U.S. financing of opposition forces inside Cuba.
The U.S. State Department didn’t immediately respond to questions about Lozada’s comments, but a senior state department official said Wednesday on a call to commemorate the anniversary that the administration remains convinced that a shift from a policy of isolation to engagement is “the best course for supporting the aspirations of the Cuban people.”