Full text of statement to the press by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, at the Palace of the Revolution on March 21, 2016, “Year 58 of the Revolution” .
Author: Granma | firstname.lastname@example.org
march 24, 2016 11:03:18
Photo: Estudio Revolución
(Council of State transcript / GI translation)
Mr. President Barack Obama:
We are pleased to welcome the first visit by a U.S. president to our country in 88 years.
We hope that during your brief stay on the island you will be able to appreciate the hospitality of the Cuban people, who have never harbored feelings of animosity toward the American people, to whom we are united by historical, cultural and emotional ties.
Your visit is an important step in the process toward the improvement of bilateral relations, which we hope will help advance further progress in our ties, to the benefit of both nations and the region.
We have just held a constructive and useful meeting, which continues on from the previous two we held in Panama and New York.
We note that in the 15 months since we announced the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations we have achieved concrete results.
We resumed direct postal mail and signed an agreement to reestablish regular flights.
We have expanded cooperation in areas of mutual interest. We signed two memorandums of understanding on environmental protection and marine areas, and another to improve the safety of maritime navigation. Today another will be signed on cooperation in agriculture.
Currently, another group of bilateral instruments for cooperation in areas such as combating drug trafficking, security of trade and travelers, and health are being negotiated. On the latter, we have agreed to intensify cooperation in the prevention and treatment of communicable diseases such as the Zika virus and chronic non-communicable diseases, including cancer. This cooperation is beneficial not only to Cuba and the United States, but also to our hemisphere.
Since the decisions taken by President Obama to modify the application of some aspects of the blockade, Cuban companies and their U.S. counterparts have been working to identify potential trade operations within the still restrictive framework of the regulations in force.
Some have been concretized, particularly in the area of telecommunications, an area in which our country has a program based on its development priorities and the necessary technological sovereignty to ensure the appropriate use of these to serve national interests.
Negotiations are also advancing on the purchase of medicines, medical equipment and equipment for power generation and environmental protection, among others.
Much more could be done if the U.S. blockade was lifted. Continue reading