Raul Castro slams US over ‘attacks on Cuban sovereignty’

Cuba's President Raul Castro © Enrique de la Osa
In an unscheduled broadcast on state television, Cuban President Raul Castro said the United States needs to do more if it wants to normalize relations with the island.

While commenting on how there have been some improvements between Havana and Washington since their agreement to normalize diplomatic relations in December 2014, Castro also criticized the US for its lackluster approach to actual progress being made between the neighbors.

The 84-year-old leader discussed how it is "imperative that the government of the United States remove all policies of the past" if anything is to change in a meaningful way.

One of the focal points of Castro’s Friday speech was the continued broadcasting of Radio Marti and TV Marti by the US. Based in Miami, Florida, the stations are funded by the US government and are transmitted to Cuba with programming broadcast in Spanish, which Castro believes is an attack on the country’s sovereignty.

"The United States maintains programs that are harmful to Cuban sovereignty, such as projects to promote changes in our political, economic and social order," he said.

As well as condemning the ongoing trade embargo, Castro slammed the US immigration policy that sees Cuban migrants granted automatic residence if they reach land in the US.

Castro said that President Barack Obama was able to exert more authority if he wanted relations to improve at a quicker pace, also referencing US withdrawal from Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay.

The Cuban leader also said his government is "fully willing" to continue working on the normalization of relations but such changes must be "based on mutual respect for sovereignty and independence."