Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Begins Official Visit to Germany

On Monday, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez began an official visit to Germany, during which he will hold talks with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Minister Rodríguez is scheduled to also hold meetings with other authorities in the European country.

Cuba and Germany enjoy positive relations and the two sides have pointed to existing broad potential to further expand ties in sectors of mutual interest.

Germany is the top market of European tourists to Cuba and the second globally, surpassed only by Canada in 2015.                                            

In 2014, trade exchange amounted to 224 million euros.

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Cuban Foreign Minister Begins Official Visit to Canada

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez has began an official visit to Canada in response to an invitation from his counterpart, Stéphane Dion.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry reports that during his stay in Canada, the island's top diplomat will develop a comprehensive work program that includes official talks with his Canadian host and a visit to the province of Quebec, invited by the Minister of International Relations and Francophone, Christine St-Pierre.

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Cuba Studies True Reach of New Measures announced by the U.S.

Cuba analyzes the true reach of the measures announced last March 15 by the U.S. to modify some aspects of the economic, commercial and financial blockade, asserted today Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez.

At a press conference, he pointed out that although what was announced by the North American departments of Treasure and Commerce is positive and it’s heading on the right path, it will be necessary to study its depth.

He highlighted the authorization given to Cuba to use North American dollars in its international transactions which soon Cuba will carry out transfers in that currency with third country banks as well as banks within the U.S.

These first movements will verify if these bank transactions are doable and whether foreign banks and North Americans have indications that they can do such operations without fear to unjust but intimidating penalizations, he explained.

He said he was hopeful that the recent fines against the German bank Commerzbank and the French Crédit Agricole after the advanced process of reestablishment of relationships between both countries do not repeat again.

He also commented that for this measure to be viable it will surely required political statements from a very high-level within the U.S. government, documents with juridical reach will be needed, legal clarifications, several explanations on behalf of the Department of Treasure that give security to both foreign and domestic banks.

Bruno Rodriguez said that it will be necessary to revert intimidating effects accumulated for decades especially in the last period when sanctions were applied to third country banks for amounts close to 14 thousand million dollars for establishing a legal contract with Cuba.

Rodríguez highlighted that some recent measures enlarge the reach of previous ones like that of trips with educational purposes, despite that it maintains the legal banning of traveling, which is considered insane and unjustified.

“Cuba is the only forbidden destination for North American citizens”, said the minister.

Here below the entire press conference:

On March 15, the Departments of the Treasury and of Commerce issued new regulations that modify the implementation of some aspects of the US blockade against Cuba.

This is the fourth announcement of this sort made by the Government of the United States since December 17, 2014, when the presidents of both countries made public their decision to re-establish diplomatic relations.

We are currently analyzing their scope and practical effects in order to confirm their feasibility.

After a preliminary consideration of these measures, it can be affirmed that they are positive.

Some of them expand the scope of those which had been adopted before; so is the case for the one authorizing now individual “people-to-people” educational travels. However, it should be recalled that the legal prohibition that prevents US citizens from freely traveling to Cuba is still in force. This prohibition should be lifted by the US Congress.

Cuba’s authorization to use US dollars in its international transactions, a measure which has been included in this new package, concerns an important aspect of the blockade. For this measure to be viable, the US Government is required to issue a political statement as well as clear and precise instructions that would provide legal and political guarantees to banks, in order to halt financial persecution and reverse the intimidating effects generated by the sanctions imposed for years on US and third-countries financial institutions for conducting legitimate transactions with Cuba.

In the coming days we will attempt to make some transfers in US dollars to confirm that these can be done and that the banks have received instructions indicating that they are allowed to engage in financial operations with Cuba without fear of sanctions. Besides, we hope that, from now on, such fines as those given to important banks, namely Commerzbank and Credit Agricole, just to mention the most recent examples, will not be applied again; and that foreign financial institutions would not refuse to make transactions with our country.

Authorizing Cuba to use US dollars does not mean that banking relations between Cuba and the United States have normalized. Cuban banks are still not allowed to open correspondent accounts in US banks, and therefore our operations will necessarily continue to be done through third parties, which increases operational costs as well as the amount of related procedures.

None of the other measures entered into force modify the implementation of fundamental aspects of the blockade. For example:

•   Investments other than those approved in our country’s telecom sector are not allowed.

•   The US ban on Cuban imports is still in force, and these include pharmaceuticals and biotech products. Thus, the limited authorized bilateral trade continues to be essentially a one-way trade. Only the absurd prohibition preventing US citizens from consuming and receiving Cuban products and services in third countries was modified.

•   Current restrictions on US exports to Cuba, which are limited and exclude key sectors of the Cuban economy, have not been modified.

•   Ships carrying goods to Cuba are still not allowed to touch US ports for a period of 180 days, thus increasing freight charges. The only measure adopted in this area was not meant to benefit Cuba, but rather to make US shipping companies operations   profitable.

•   Cuban as well as other countries’ individuals and companies are still arbitrarily listed as “specially designated nationals”, and for that reason they are prevented from doing transactions with US entities or their subsidiaries.

All of these restrictions could be eliminated by means of executive decisions.

The truth is that the blockade is still in force. Jack Lew, the Secretary of the Treasury, has himself recognized, two days ago, that the blockade still restricts, in a very, very significant way, the volume of transactions between Cuba and the United States.

The blockade also has dissuasive as well as punitive components. Here there are some examples:

•   US and foreign companies have been fined recently for providing services and equipment of US origin to Cuba.

•   Foreign companies trading with Cuban nickel and rum have seen their lines of credit cancelled and their bank transfers rejected, even if they were denominated in currencies other than the US dollar.

•   Foreign banks have closed down the bank accounts in currencies other than the US dollar maintained by the Cuban medical staff offering their cooperation in African countries.

•   US subsidiaries based in third countries have refused to provide their services to Cuban diplomatic missions and entities abroad.

The blockade is the most important obstacle to Cuba’s economic development and causes hardships to the Cuban people.

Therefore, lifting the blockade will be essential for normalizing relations between our two countries.

Senior officials of the US have stated that the purpose of the approved measures is “to empower” the Cuban people. If the US Government is really interested in helping the Cuban people, then the blockade should be lifted.

We recognize the position adopted by President Obama against the blockade and his repeated appeals to Congress urging it to lift it.

We expect the US Congress to act accordingly in the face of an almost unanimous claim of the international community and ever broader sectors of the US society and public opinion.

Cuba has engaged in the construction of a new relation with the United States, in the full exercise of its sovereignty and committed to its ideals of social justice and solidarity.

No one should expect that, in order to achieve that, Cuba will renounce anyone of its principles or its foreign policy, which is committed to the just causes all over the world and the defense of peoples’ self-determination.

Within a few days we will be welcoming the US President with our distinctive hospitality as well as with the respect and consideration he deserves in his condition as Head of State.

It will be an opportunity for him to know about our reality and meet a noble, proud and patriotic people struggling for a better future against all odds.

The US President will be able to see a nation that is involved in its economic and social development and the improvement of the wellbeing of its citizens, who enjoy rights and are able to show some achievements that are still a chimera for many countries of the world, despite our condition as a blockaded and underdeveloped country.

It will also be an important occasion to identify what new steps could be taken in the next few months to contribute to the process of improvement of relations, on the basis of respect and equality, for the benefit of both countries and peoples.

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A Quick Look inside the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C.

After more than five decades of cold relations, the US and Cuba have restored full diplomatic relations.

July 20 marks the opening of the Cuban embassy in Washington, D.C., for the first time in 54 years.

Cuba's embassy is located in an elegant mansion on 16th Street in the US capital.

With gilded moldings, columns, arches, and statues, the building feels very grand inside.


There are elegant stained glass windows.


And grand marble balconies.


It will begin functioning as an embassy today.


Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez was on hand to raise the Cuban flag over the new embassy.


This is the first time that the Cuban flag has been raised in Washington, D.C., since 1961.


A large crowd gathered outside the embassy.


Most signs outside the embassy seem to welcome the return of Cuba in the US.

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Cuban Foreign Minister meets with US Secretary of State

On Monday, July 20, in the afternoon, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, was welcomed at the headquarters of the State Department by his US counterpart, John Kerry.

The heads of the Cuban and US diplomacy discussed the current status of the relations between both countries as well as the progress achieved since the announcements of December 17, 2014, including Cuba’s removal from the list of States sponsors of terrorism, the historic meeting between President Raúl Castro and President Barack Obama, the expansion of official exchanges on issues of common interest and the re-establishment of diplomatic relations and the re-opening of embassies.

After recognizing the appeals issued by President Obama to the US Congress so that the blockade is finally lifted as well as the steps that have been taken to modify the implementation of some aspects of that policy, Minister Rodríguez Parrilla insisted that the total lifting of the blockade is an essential part of the process towards the normalization of relations, as it is the resolution of other problems that have been accumulating for more than fifty years. He also emphasized that, in the meantime, the President of the United States can continue taking steps, by resorting to his executive powers, to significantly contribute to the dismantling of the blockade.

The Cuban Minister reiterated the Cuban government’s willingness to move on towards the normalization of relations with the United States on the basis of respect and equality and without any prejudice to the independence and sovereignty of Cuba.

Both parties ratified their interest in normalizing bilateral relations, recognizing that this will be a long and complex process that will require of the willingness of both countries.

This is the first visit paid to the United States by a Cuban foreign minister since the triumph of the Revolution. The Cuban minister is in Washington heading the delegation that attended the ceremony to re-open the Cuban Embassy in this country.

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Statement by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, at the re-open of the Cuban Embassy in the United States

Her Excellency Mrs. Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State;  

Officials of the US Government accompanying her;

Honorable members of Congress;

Esteemed Representatives of the US Organizations, Movements and Institutions who have made huge efforts in favor of the change of the US Cuba policy and the improvement of bilateral relations;

Esteemed Representatives of the Organizations and Movements of the patriotic emigration;

Distinguished Ambassadors;

Comrades of the Cuban Delegation;

José Ramón Cabañas, Chargé D’ Affairs;

Officials and workers of the Cuban Embassy;

Esteemed friends;

The flag that we revere at the entrance of this room is the same that was hauled down here 54 years ago, which was zealously kept in Florida by a family of liberators and later on by the Museum of our eastern city of Las Tunas, as a sort of premonition that this day would certainly come.

Flying once again in this place is the lone-star flag which embodies the generous blood that was shed, the sacrifices made and the struggle waged for more than one hundred years by our people for their national independence and full self-determination, facing the most serious challenges and risks.

Today we pay homage to all those who died in its defense and renew the commitment of the present generations, fully confident on the newer ones, to serve it with honor.

We evoke the memory of José Martí, who was fully devoted to the struggle for the freedom of Cuba and managed to get a profound knowledge about the United States:  In his “North American Scenes” he made a vivid description of the great nation to the North and extolled its virtues.  He also bequeathed to us a warning against its excessive craving for domination which was confirmed by a long history of disagreements.

We’ve been able to make it through this date thanks to the firm and wise leadership of Fidel Castro Ruz, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, whose ideas we will always revere with utmost loyalty.  We now recall his presence in this city, in April of 1959, with the purpose of promoting fair bilateral relations, as well as the sincere tribute he paid to Lincoln and Washington.  The purposes that brought him to this country on such an early time are the same that have pursued throughout these decades and coincide exactly with the ones that we pursue today.  Many in this room, whether politicians, journalists, outstanding personalities in the fields of arts or sciences, students or American social activists, have been able to treasure unlimited hours of enriching talks with the Commander, which allowed them to have a better understanding of our reasons, goals and decisions.

This ceremony has been possible thanks to the free and unshakable will, unity, sacrifice, selflessness, heroic resistance and work of our people and also the strength of the Cuban Nation and its culture.

Several generations of the revolutionary diplomacy have converged in this effort and offered their martyrs.  The example and vibrant speech of Raúl Roa, the Chancellor of Dignity, have continued to inspire Cuba’s foreign policy and will remain forever in the memory of the younger generations and future diplomats.

I bring greetings from President Raúl Castro, as an expression of the good will and sound determination to move forward, through a dialogue based on mutual respect and sovereign equality, to a civilized coexistence, even despite the differences that exist between both governments, which makes it possible to solve bilateral problems and promote cooperation and the development of mutually beneficial relations, just as both peoples desire and deserve.

We know that this would contribute to peace, development, equity and stability in the continent; the implementation of the purposes and principles enshrined in the UN Charter and in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, which was signed at the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States held in Havana.

Today, the re-establishment of diplomatic relations and the re-opening of embassies complete the first stage of the bilateral dialogue and pave the way to the complex and certainly long process towards the normalization of bilateral relations.

The challenge is huge because there have never been normal relations between the United States of America and Cuba, in spite of  the one and a half century of intensive and enriching links that have existed between both peoples.

The Platt Amendment, imposed in 1902 under a military occupation, thwarted the liberation efforts that had counted on the participation or the sympathy of quite a few American citizens and led to the usurpation of a piece of Cuban territory in Guantánamo. Its nefarious consequences left an indelible mark in our common history.

In 1959, the United States refused to accept the existence of a fully independent small and neighboring island and much less, a few years later, a socialist Revolution that was forced to defend itself and has embodied, ever since then, our people’s will.

I have referred to History to reaffirm that today an opportunity has opened up to begin working in order to establish new bilateral relations, quite different from whatever existed in the past. The Cuban government is fully committed to that.

Only the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade which has caused so much harm and suffering to our people; the return of the occupied territory in Guantánamo and the respect for Cuba’s sovereignty will lend some meaning to the historic event that we are witnessing today.

Every step forward will receive the recognition and the favorable acceptance of our people and government, and most certainly the encouragement and approval of Latin America and the Caribbean and the entire world.

We reaffirm Cuba’s willingness to move towards the normalization of relations with the United States in a constructive spirit, but without any prejudice whatsoever to our independence or any interference in the affairs that fall under the exclusive sovereignty of Cubans.

To insist in the attainment of obsolete and unjust goals, only hoping for a mere change in the methods to achieve them will not legitimize them or favor the national interest of the United States or its citizens.  However, should that be the case, we would be ready to face the challenge.

We will engage in this process, as was written by President Raúl Castro in his letter of July 1st to President Obama, “encouraged by the reciprocal intention of developing respectful and cooperative relations between our peoples and governments.”

From this Embassy, we will continue to work tirelessly to promote cultural, economic, scientific, academic and sports relations as well as friendly ties between our peoples.

We would like to convey the Cuban government’s respect and recognition to the President of the United States for urging the US Congress to lift the blockade as well as for the change of policy that he has announced, but in particular for the disposition he has showed to make use of his executive powers for that purpose.

We are particularly reminded of President Carter’s decision to open the respective Interests Sections back in September of 1977.

I am pleased to express my gratitude to the Government of the Swiss Confederation for having represented the Cuban interests for the last 24 years.

On behalf of the Government and the people of Cuba, I would like to express our gratitude to the members of Congress, scholars, religious leaders, activists, solidarity groups, business people and so many US citizens who worked so hard for so many years so that this day would come.

To the majority of Cubans residing in the United States who have advocated and called for a different kind of relation of this country with our Nation, we would like to express our recognition. Deeply moved, they have told us that they would multiply their efforts and will remain faithful to the legacy of the patriotic emigration that supported the ideals of independence.

We would like to express our gratitude to our Latin American and Caribbean brothers and sisters who have resolutely supported our country and called for a new chapter in the relations between the United States and Cuba, as was done, with extraordinary perseverance, by a lot of friends from all over the world.

I reiterate our recognition to the governments represented here by the Diplomatic Corps, whose voice and vote at the UN General Assembly and other fora  made a decisive contribution.

From this country José Martí organized the Cuban Revolutionary Party to conquer freedom, all the justice and the full dignity of human beings.  His ideas, which were heroically vindicated in his centennial year, continue to be the main inspiration that moves us along the path that our people have sovereignly chosen.

Thank you, very much.

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Cuban President Raul Castro Meets with Venezuelan Parliament Speaker Diosdado Cabello

Cuban President Raul Castro met with the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, in Havana in a meeting that was described as “fruitful.”

Raul and Diosdado Cabello expressed satisfaction with the excellent state of bilateral relations between Cuba and Venezuela and their continued development, an official statement said about the meeting that took place on Saturday. It was noted that Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez also participated in the meeting.

Venezuela and Cuba have been close allies since the arrival of the Bolivarian Revolution to power in Venezuela, first under the late President Hugo Chavez and now under his successor, Nicolas Maudro.

Cabello also met with Cuban Revolution leader, Fidel Castro, releasing an image of the meeting on his Twitter account.

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Cuban Foreign Minister Pays an Official Visit to Netherlands

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, today will pay an official visit to Netherlands, which closes a tour of several European nations.
According to information released, Rodriguez will meet with some key governmental authorities.

The minister of the Caribbean island began a European tour that took him to France, Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg last Monday.

During the tour, Rodriguez was received by the highest authorities of the respective countries and played an intense and fruitful agenda.

He performed 'excellent bilateral visits', declared de Cuban Foreign Minister said to the media during his stay in Brussels.

Rodriguez said that his two-day official stay in France, the first EU country visited, was 'very useful'.

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