Castro angry over ‘misinterpreted’ thaw with US

FIDEL CASTRO says President Barack Obama “misinterpreted” his brother Raul’s remarks regarding the United States and bristled at the suggestion that Cuba should free political prisoners or cut taxes on remittances from abroad as a goodwill gesture to the US.

Raul Castro touched off a whirlwind of speculation last week that the US and Cuba could be headed toward a thaw in nearly a half-century of chilly relations. The speculation began when the Cuban president said leaders would be willing to sit down with their US counterparts and discuss “everything”, including human rights, freedom of the press and expression, and political prisoners on the island.

Obama responded at the Summit of the Americas by saying Washington seeks a new beginning with Cuba, but he also said on Sunday that Cuba should release some political prisoners and reduce official taxes on remittances sent to the island from the US.

That appeared to enrage Fidel Castro, 82, who wrote in an essay posted on a government website that Obama “without a doubt misinterpreted Raul’s declarations”.

The former president appeared to be throwing a dose of cold water on growing expectations for improved bilateral relations, suggesting Obama had no right to dare suggest that Cuba make even small concessions. He also seemed to suggest too much was being made of Raul’s comments about discussing “everything” with US authorities.

“Affirming that the president of Cuba is ready to discuss any topic with the president of the United States expresses he’s not afraid to broach any subject,” Fidel Castro wrote of his 77-year-old brother.

“It’s a sign of bravery and confidence in the principles of the revolution,” he said.


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