In the first response by a Cuban official to a new, harsher Cuba policy unveiled by President Donald Trump last week, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said Monday that the island’s government would not buckle to the new sanctions.
“We have the patience, the resistance” to wait out Trump, said Rodriguez, who delivered the remarks in Vienna, Austria, as part of a European tour.
“These measures reinforce our patriotism,” Rodriguez said, giving the clearest signal yet that the Cuban government would meet Trump’s harder line with their own tough talk.
Surrounded by a crowd of conservative Cuban exiles in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, Trump on Friday said he was fulfilling a campaign promise to roll back the Obama administration’s opening with the communist nation.
“Now that I am President, we will expose the crimes of the Castro regime,” Trump told the crowd, who interrupted him several times to chant, “USA!”
Many of the changes that President Barack Obama made to Cuban policy, including restoring diplomatic relations and re-establishing direct flight service, will remain under Trump’s Cuba policy, which bars Americans and US companies from any transactions that benefit the Cuban military.
However, Trump’s criticism of the Cuban government for human rights abuses and the lack of multi-party elections made it clear that the thawing relations between the US and Cuba had stopped.
“It was a grotesque spectacle from the Cold War,” Rodriguez said of Trump’s speech. “The US government doesn’t have the moral authority to give lessons on human rights or democracy. ”
Trump’s new policy is designed to hit the Cuban military, which controls a large part of the island’s economy, including hotels, supermarkets and tour bus companies.
While Trump said the new measures are designed to help Cuba’s small but growing private business sector, they could have the impact of scaring off American visitors confused by the growing complexity of travel to the island.
Over the weekend, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, a Cuban-American who lobbied Trump to toughen Cuba policy, said the Cuban military has such a wide reach that it could make much of the island’s economy off limits to Americans.
Still, Rodriguez said, the Cuban government had no intention of meeting Trump’s demands, including extraditing US fugitives from justice, like convicted cop killer Assata Shakur.
Rodriguez called those fugitives “fighters for civil liberties” who had already been granted political asylum by Cuba and would not be returned to US.