Speaking slowly and deliberately from a printed speech, Cuban leader Raúl Castro addressed his island nation on state TV this afternoon to thank U.S. President Barack Obama and announce a new chapter in U.S.-Cuban relations.
Dressed in his customary olive-drab military uniform and sitting somberly at a desk in his wood-paneled office flanked by photographs of Cuban national heroes, Castro described his government’s secret negotiations with the U.S. as a continuation of the “long struggle” started by his brother Fidel.
The Cuban leader said his government “maintained its sovereignty and self-determination” throughout the negotiation process, which he said exemplified Fidel’s historic call to “discuss and resolve our differences without renouncing our principles.”
Castro said the high-level talks with the U.S. helped “resolve some issues of interest” and are part of a greater plan to reform the island nation and build a “model of socialism that is prosperous and sustainable.”
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The Cuban leader said the return of the remaining three incarcerated members of the “Cuban 5,” who were jailed in the U.S. for 16 years, was a fulfillment of Fidel’s promise in 2001.
Castro also gave props to Obama, the Vatican and Canada for helping make it all happen.
Castro said his government agreed to free Alan Gross, a “Cuban spy” and other prisoners that the U.S. has expressed interest in.
In addition to the prisoner swaps, Castro said the two nations have agreed to reestablish diplomatic relations — even though problems still exist.
Castro called on a new era of relations based on international law, rights and the OAS Democratic Charter. He called on the U.S. to take additional steps to lift the travel ban, mail blockade and telecommunications.
Castro said historical differences remain, but a new chapter in bilateral relations is possible through dialogue.
All things are possible through dialogue, Castro stressed.
“The progress achieved in these talks show it’s possible to find solutions to a lot of problems,” the Cuban leader said. “As we have said before, we need to learn the art of civilized coexistence despite our differences.”
Ingrid Rojas is a Colombian multimedia producer based in Miami. She spends her days either shooting, producing or editing all kinds of video content.
Tim Rogers, Fusion's senior editor for Latin America, was born a gringo to well-meaning parents, but would rather have been Nicaraguan. Also, he's the second hit on Google when you search for "Guatemalan superhero." Tim was a Nieman Fellow in 2014.