President Raúl Castro makes a Revolution Day speech in Guantánamo, Cuba. Photograph: Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo/Getty Images
Bid to mend fences made in impromptu remarks at the end of a Revolution Day ceremony in Guantánamo
Cuban president Raúl Castro said on Thursday that his government was willing to mend fences with its bitter cold war foe, the United States.
At the end of a Revolution Day ceremony marking the 59th anniversary of an uprising against dictator Fulgencio Batista’s regime, Castro grabbed the microphone and made apparently impromptu remarks. He said no topic was off limits, including US concerns about democracy, freedom of the press and human rights on the island, as long as it was a conversation between equals.
Washington would have to be prepared to hear Cuba’s own complaints about those issues in the United States and Europe, he added. “We are nobody’s colony, nobody’s puppet,” Castro said. “Any day they want, the table is set. This has already been said through diplomatic channels. If they want to talk, we will talk.”
Washington and Havana have not had diplomatic relations for five decades and a 50-year-old US embargo outlaws nearly all trade with, and travel to, the island.