Cuban Foreign Minister: Blockade Continues Being Major Issue

The statement comes ahead of Obama’s visit to Cuba and is part of the broader the normalization of relations between the two countries.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez emphasized that in spite of the new measures announced by Washington, the U.S. blockade on the Caribbean island continues being a major issue after 55 years.

He also acknowledged that there’s several differences between the U.S. and Cuba views in a number of issues, including on foreign affairs and the question of sovereignty.

But he added that discussions about internal changes in Cuba will not be on the table during Obama’s visit.

“This is and will continue to be the exclusive sovereignty of our people. No one should try to make us denounce any of our principles or our international political commitment to just causes,” the foreign minister stated.

Rodriguez also told reporters Thursday that Cuba will try to make a series of international financial transactions in the coming days. If they work, it will get rid of the 10 percent tax penalty on the U.S. dollar.

The news comes ahead of Obama’s visit to the island next Sunday, which will be the first by a sitting U.S. president in 88 years.

The U.S. Departments of Treasury and Commerce on Tuesday said Washington will allow its citizens to travel to Cuba as individuals and give Cubans more access to U.S. banks.

The changes that are already in effect are part of the broader strengthening of bilateral relations between the two countries, which began in December 2014.

Rodriguez highlighted that the government of Cuba strongly rejects the Obama’s executive order that declares Venezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

He said President Raul Castro will demand his U.S. counterpart “immediately” reverse the decision against the people of Venezuela.

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