United States Cuba Policy & Business Blog

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fidel Castro sends message to Bill Richardson "positive"

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, today described as "very productive" his five-day trip to Cuba and, although not met with Fidel Castro, said he received a personal message "positive" the ailing former Cuban leader.
Richardson of the most prominent U.S. Democratic leaders announced that President Barack Obama will take a package of recommendations for improving relations between both countries, but admitted that the bilateral normalization "take time".
At a press conference, said this is "a complicated process" that must begin with "reciprocal gestures and greater flexibility of the government of Cuba, which proposed to initiate contacts with Cuban-Americans living in the U.S., which would be prepared to contribute ".
In his view, "an informal dialogue" between the exiles, especially those with "very strong political importance, and government of Cuba would" improve relations between those two groups "and also the bilateral relationship.
"I'm very optimistic and happy, but first you must implement humanitarian exchanges to open the beginning of a dialogue" between the two governments, said Richardson, who refused to have come as a representative of Obama and insisted that his visit was of a commercial nature.
He felt that before treating complex issues as the economic, Guantanamo and political prisoners, among others, Havana and Washington should see how to ensure mutual exchanges of scholars, scientists, athletes, artists and students.
Asked whether he had discussed the issue of release of Cuban political prisoners on the island and islanders officials jailed in the U.S., acknowledged that addressing this issue, but "we focus more" on trade issues travel.
In January 1996, as a congressman from New Mexico, Richardson met with Castro for six hours and managed to release three imprisoned dissidents.
The governor called on Cuba to have greater "flexibility to undertake reciprocal actions" and said the United States must stop applying the measures of cessation of travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans to the island and expand the travel of Americans.
In its contacts with Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon, Dagoberto Rodriguez and Deputy Foreign Minister addressed these issues and the need to stop restrictions on the movements of diplomats accredited to the respective countries.
"You can not change in a year 50 years of bilateral dispute, but we have to," he said, commenting that there is "a better environment and willingness to improve," which showed in his two meetings with Alarcon and other officials islanders.
Former U.S. senator defended the conduct of the artist Juanes concert in Havana on 20 September and said it was "a positive expression that will improve relations between America and Cuba" and should not be treated as a political event .
He acknowledged that before traveling to Havana had contacts with Cuban friends who called Americans "who are in politics".
"It was an organized event, but a breakfast chat with friends. I have many friends Cuban Americans in Florida, New Jersey and I see when I go to Miami," he said.
Published on Milenio.com
By jmecheverry