HAVANA – Cuba hit out on Saturday at remarks by US President Donald Trump on the Caribbean island’s Independence Day, including accusing its communist government of despotism, which it dubbed as controversial and ridiculous.
In a statement on Cuban state television, Raul Castro’s government said that on May 20, 1902, Cuba became a “neo-colony of the Yankees” and remained one until Jan. 1, 1959, when Fidel Castro’s revolution triumphed.
The statement called Trump’s views on its policies contradictory and clumsy, and said that the US president is fully aware of this.
The criticism came in response to a White House statement in which Trump congratulated Cuban-Americans and the Cuban people on Independence Day.
“The Cuban people deserve a government that peacefully upholds democratic values, economic liberties, religious freedoms and human rights, and my administration is committed to achieving that vision,” he said.
The US president also said 19th-century Cuban independence hero Jose Marti “reminds us that cruel despotism cannot extinguish the flame of freedom in the hearts of Cubans.”
It its own statement, the Cuban government said that Trump does not understand that Marti was the most anti-imperialist of all Cubans.
Although Trump has spoken about Cuba on several occasions, it is the first time Cuba has reacted to his comments.
In February, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said the Trump administration would give priority to the human rights of the Cuban people.
However, since then there have been few updates on the matter, and there has been no contact between the governments of Trump and Raul Castro, who said Cuba is willing to talk and cooperate with the US, providing it does not interfere in the country’s internal affairs.