Castro Lectures U.S. on Human Rights 'Double Standard'

By Crabtree, Susan | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, March 21, 2016 | Go to article overview

Castro Lectures U.S. on Human Rights 'Double Standard'


Crabtree, Susan, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


Cuban President Raul Castro, while standing next to President Obama during his historic visit to the island nation, delivered a lecture to the United States on its "double standard" on human rights and ticked off several other demands to fully normalize relations.

During several moments of awkward tension while he shared the stage with Obama, Castro highlighted America's "political manipulation and double standards" with respect to human rights and lack of universal healthcare.

In response to a question from CNN's Jim Acosta on why his regime imprisons dissidents, Castro appeared to deny that his country has done so.

"What political prisoners?" he asked. "Give me a name or names. After this meeting is over...and they will be released before tonight ends."

Later, he summed up the "profound differences" between the two countries' systems of government.

"There are profound differences between our countries that will not go away," Castro said. "...We should learn the art of coexisting with our differences in a civilized manner."

Obama, at one point taking exception to Castro speaking to an aide while he was trying to answer a question from the press, declared it a "new day" between the U.S. and Cuba, trying to focus on the positive.

"We were moved by the Cubans who received us yesterday smiling and waving when we drove in from the airport," he said, noting that 40 members of Congress are traveling with him as part of the U.S. delegation, a sign of the "excitement and interest in American" about the new business opportunities in Cuba.

But he acknowledged the obvious differences on "democracy and human rights" and said the future of Cuba will be decided by Cubans, not anybody else.

Acknowledging Castro's criticism of the U.S. human rights record, Obama said he welcomed the "constructive dialogue. …

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