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Cuba hits back at Trump for resorting to ‘coercive methods of the past’

Mandel Ngan, AFP | US President Trump announced his policy changes towards Cuba in a speech in Miami, Florida, on June 16, 2017.

The Cuban government has denounced US President Donald Trump's decision to tighten the blockade on the island as a setback in US-Cuban relations, but said it remained willing to continue "respectful dialogue”.

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The US president announced on Friday he was reimposing certain travel and trade restrictions eased by his predecessor, Barack Obama, condemning a "completely one-sided deal".

But he stopped short of reversing key diplomatic and commercial ties reinstated two years ago.

In a statement read out on the evening news shortly after, Cuba’s Communist government said Trump was resorting to "coercive methods of the past" that hurt the Cuban people and prevented economic development but would not weaken the revolution.

"The Cuban government denounces the new measures hardening the blockade that are destined to fail ... and that will not achieve their aim of weakening the revolution," Havana said.

'A speech aimed at Cuban Americans'

Trump has ordered tighter restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba and a clampdown on US business dealings with the Cuban military.

He said he based the measures largely on human rights grounds, calling on Cuba to release political prisoners and hold free and fair elections.

Though Trump’s announcement stops short of a full reversal of the Cuba rapprochement, it targets the travel and economic engagement between the countries that has blossomed in the short time since relations were restored.

The US president described his move as an effort to ramp up pressure to create a “free Cuba” after more than half a century of communism.

'There's an internal lack of logic here'

Cuba charged Trump with manipulating the topic for "political ends", adding that the United States was not in a position to give lessons on human right given its own domestic problems.

"We have serious worries about the respect and guarantee of human rights in that country," Havana said, citing reports of police abuse, gun crime, racial discrimination, lack of public healthcare, gender-based wage inequality and torture at the Guantanamo Naval base.

On a positive note, the Cuban government said the two countries had proven over the past two years that they could cooperate and coexist in a civil manner, respecting their respective differences.

"But it should not be expected that to that end, Cuba will make compromises to its very sovereignty," it said. "The Cuban people will continue deciding itself on the changes necessary for Cuba."

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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