LATIN AMERICA

“Isolation has not worked,” says Obama in TV address on Cuba

US and Cuban presidents take to airwaves to make simultaneous statements

Madrid -
Obama during his televised statement to the nation on Wednesday.
Obama during his televised statement to the nation on Wednesday. POOL (REUTERS)

A new era of bilateral relations began on Wednesday with the announcement that the United States and Cuba will begin talks to re-establish diplomatic relations.

In simultaneous televised addresses at 6pm Spanish time, US President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raúl Castro made statements that marked the beginning of the end of a remnant of the Cold War in the Americas.

“We must learn the art of coexisting with our differences in a civilized manner,” said Raúl Castro, brother to the longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro, whose regime prompted the embargo.

Cuban President Raúl Castro speaks to the nation via public television in Havana on Wednesday.
Cuban President Raúl Castro speaks to the nation via public television in Havana on Wednesday.REUTERS TV (REUTERS)

“While admitting that we have profound differences, fundamentally on the issues of national sovereignty, human rights and foreign policy, we reiterate our openness to dialogue on all of these issues,” he said in a speech that was much shorter than Obama’s.

Castro also asked the US government to remove all obstacles restricting travel and other forms of communications between both nations.

Meanwhile, in a 20-minute address, the US president said that “isolation has not worked” and that the 50-year-embargo, while “rooted in the best of intentions,” has not succeeded in removing the Castro regime from power. “It has had little effect.”

Obama added that his government will “end an outdated approach” toward Cuba. “I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.”

The US president pronounced two sentences in Spanish: “No es fácil” (“It is not easy”); and “Todos somos americanos” (“We are all Americans”).

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