HAVANA TIMES — Cuban president Raul Castro asked today in his first speech at the United Nations for the United States to drop its economic and trade embargo on the island.
Castro defined the thaw in relations between Cuba and the United States after more than a century of ideological confrontation as “an important step forward”, but stressed that the embargo in place since the 60’s remains in place.
Only the US Congress has the power to end the embargo, as requested by Cuba and President Barack Obama himself.
“The economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba for over half a century causes challenges and hardships for the Cuban people and is the main obstacle to the economic development of our country,” said Castro, who noted that the embargo is rejected by 188 Member States of the United Nations.
Castro, president of Cuba since 2008, made his first speech at the United Nations as part of the Sustainable Development Summit. On Monday he will address the plenary of the General Assembly, the first time in 15 years that a Cuban leader addresses the forum. Fidel Castro last spoke before the plenary in 2000.
The president of Cuba said today that “the gap between north and south and the polarization of wealth continues to increase.”
“Amid the current economic and financial crisis, the wealthy and the transnational companies will become increasingly richer while the amount of the poor, the unemployed and the homeless increases dramatically, due to cruel policies called “austerity,” he said.
“We have to build another international financial architecture; eliminate the monopoly on technology and knowledge, and change the current international economic order,” said the Cuban leader.