Cuba decries US Castro ban at United Nations

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


Cuba slammed the United States at the United Nations Saturday for barring former president Raul Castro and his family from entering the country.

Washington announced travel sanctions on Thursday that made Castro -- brother of late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro -- and his relatives ineligible for travel to America.

"This is an action that is void of any practical effect, aimed at offending Cuba's dignity and the feelings of our people," Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez told the UN General Assembly.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the order had been passed due to 88-year-old Raul Castro's support for Venezuela's leftist leader Nicolas Maduro, who presides over a crumbling economy.

He accused Castro of violations of human rights in his continued role as first secretary of Cuba's ruling Communist Party.

President Donald Trump has vowed to rid Latin America of socialism, a stance that resonates with many Cuban and Venezuelan exiles in the politically crucial state of Florida.

Rodriguez accused the US leader of pandering to the "Cuban-American extreme right" ahead of next year's presidential elections, during a speech that lasted double his allotted time of 15 minutes.

Fidel Castro holds the record for the longest speech in front of the General Assembly, when he talked for over four and a half hours in 1960.

Trump's moves mark a sharp contrast to that of former president Barack Obama, who met Raul Castro on a historic 2016 trip to Cuba as he sought to end decades of hostility.