Cuban President Raul Castro says the United States must end a trade embargo and return the base at Guantanamo Bay in order to normalize relations between the two countries. File Photo by Anatoli Zhdanov/UPI | License Photo
BELEN, Costa Rica, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Cuban President Raul Castro on Wednesday said that for normal relations to exist between Cuba and the United States, the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba must be lifted and the base at Guantanamo Bay must be returned.
Speaking at the III Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Castro said, "If these problems aren't resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement wouldn't make any sense."
Cuba and the United States have been working toward improving diplomatic relations since Dec. 17 when it was announced the two countries would reopen embassies with each other. Representatives from each country met last week in Havana to negotiate the reopening of embassies and travel, and a greater agenda for normalizing relations.
But to re-establish normal relations, Castro says he has some concessions.
"The re-establishment of diplomatic relations is the start of a process of normalizing bilateral relations, but this will not be possible while the blockade still exists, while they don't give back the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo naval base," he said.
Castro also called for the United States to halt the transmission of anti-Castro radio and television broadcasts and give "just compensation to our people for the human and economic damage that they're suffered."
Speaking at the summit, Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño supported Castro's requests.
"The blockade is illegal ... and so vile that it is rejected by 188 countries of the world," he said. "The text is extremely strong, very harsh, in which the CELAC countries reject it, condemn it, and they insist to the United States to end that blockade."