Cuba willing to sit down with US

2012-07-26 19:19
Cuba's President Raul Castro speaks during celebrations marking Cuba’s Revolution Day in Guantanamo, Cuba. (Ramon Espinosa, AP)

Cuba's President Raul Castro speaks during celebrations marking Cuba’s Revolution Day in Guantanamo, Cuba. (Ramon Espinosa, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Havana - Cuban President Raul Castro said Thursday that his government is willing to mend fences with bitter Cold War foe the United States and sit down to discuss anything, as long as it is a conversation between equals.

At the end of a Revolution Day ceremony marking the 59th anniversary of a failed uprising against a military barracks, Castro grabbed the microphone for apparently impromptu remarks. He echoed previous statements that no topic is off-limits, including US concerns about democracy, freedom of the press and human rights on the island, as long as it is a conversation between equals.

"Any day they want, the table is set. This has already been said through diplomatic channels," Castro said. "If they want to talk, we will talk."

"We are nobody's colony, nobody's puppet," Castro added.

Washington and Havana have not had diplomatic relations for five decades.

The 50-year-old US embargo outlaws nearly all trade and travel to the island, and Washington insists Cuba must institute democratic reforms and improve human rights before it can be lifted.

Days after prominent dissident Oswalo Paya died in a car crash, Castro had harsh words for the island's opposition, accusing them of plotting to topple the government.

"Some small factions are doing nothing less than trying to set the stage and hoping that one day what happened in Libya will happen here," Castro said.

Castro also reminisced about the 1959 Revolution, promised that Cuba will complete a trans-island expressway halted years ago for lack of funds, empathised with islanders' complaints about meagre salaries and said once again that his five-year plan to overhaul Cuba's socialist economy will not be done hastily.


The July 26 national holiday was often used to make major announcements when Castro's older brother Fidel was president, but there were none on Thursday.

The main celebration kicked off at sunrise with music and speeches at a plaza in the eastern province of Guantanamo, home to the US naval base of the same name.

The American presence in Guantanamo is a sore point for Havana, which demands the base be shut down and accuses the US of torturing terror suspects held in the military prison.

"We will continue to fight such a flagrant violation... Never, under any circumstance, will we stop trying to recover that piece of ground," first Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura said in the keynote address.

Musicians sang the song "Guantanamera," and a young girl read a speech paying homage to the revolution and resistance to "Yankee" imperialism.

"We will be like 'Che,'" she said, repeating the mantra taught to schoolchildren across the island. Argentine-born guerrilla Ernesto "Che" Guevara is held up as a model of personal conduct in Cuba.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    raul castro  |  cuba  |  us
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Lood leads heavy Bok assault
Hosts England crash out of RWC
Cotter takes loss on the chin
'Basic' Bok plan worked well
Traffic Alerts

Spontaneity is the order of the day. Let go and have some fun. Try not to set too many set plans and expectations and enjoy more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.