Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez responded to President Donald Trump’s criticism of Cuba at the United Nations General Assembly by blasting the president during his own remarks Friday.
“We would like to express our strongest condemnation of the disrespectful, offensive and interventionist statement against Cuba and the Cuban government, made three days ago at this rostrum by President Donald Trump,” Rodriguez said.
In Tuesday’s General Assembly remarks, Trump called Cuba a “corrupt and destabilizing regime” and reiterated his administration’s promise not to lift sanctions until it makes fundamental reforms. Trump also encouraged world leaders to increase pressure on Venezuela, Cuba’s most important ally.
Rodriguez first responded to Trump on Tuesday by telling a TeleSUR reporter his comments were “unusual, aggressive, dominating, and openly imperialist.”
Rodriguez also used his General Assembly remarks to voice disapproval of the Trump administration’s recently announced policy toward the island. The policy, which has not yet taken effect, tightens restrictions on travel to the island and bars U.S. companies from conducting new business with entities linked to the Cuban military.
“Those decisions ignore the support from broad sectors in the U.S., including the majority of Cuban émigrés, to the lifting of the blockade and the normalization of relations,” Rodriguez said. “It only serves the interests of a group of people with Cuban origin based in South Florida, which is an ever more isolated and small group that insists on harming Cuba and its people for choosing to defend, at all costs, the right to be free, independent and sovereign.”
Even though Rodriguez spent much of his speech criticizing U.S. policy toward Cuba, he encouraged both countries to cooperate in the investigation of unexplained incidents that left U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Havana with symptoms such as hearing loss and concussions. He said Cuba had no involvement in incidents. The Trump administration is considering closing the recently reopened U.S. Embassy in Havana because of the incidents, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday.
“The investigation to clarify this issue continues, and in order to be able to arrive to a conclusion, it will be crucial to count on the cooperation of the U.S. authorities. It would be unfortunate if a matter of this nature is politicized,” Rodriguez said.
Cuba said it will introduce a U.N. resolution condemning the U.S. trade embargo on Nov. 1. The island has introduced the same resolution every year since 1991, but only last year did the U.S. abstain from the vote for the first time. The Trump administration is expected to vote “no” on the resolution.