HAVANA – Radio Marti reported Monday that a demonstration was organized for Sunday outside the White House to denounce U.S. economic and trade restrictions, but that it did not happen because the “U.S. administration failed in its initiative.”
The report contained what seemed like a concession by Cuban authorities, who had said the event was planned by some independent activists. It is unclear what prompted the Cuban-American exile leaders of the Miami-based Cuban American National Foundation to abandon their plan for the rally. They had said earlier that the event would be called for Sunday.
“None of the marches organized in the United States had the stated goal of having the blockade against Cuba solved,” Raul Castro, the president of Cuba, said on the news broadcast.
He offered no details and his report was not mentioned on state television, which has carried the government’s main radio and television news bulletins in recent weeks.
But it was in the Monday’s edition of the state-run newspaper Granma, according to its website, www.cubadebate.cu. It said U.S. foreign policy has triggered a “panic in America” after eight years of an administration headed by President Barack Obama.
“For quite some time, we have warned about the growing anti-U.S. and pro-Cuban” tendency among Cuban Americans, Castro said, without specifying what kind of criticism he was referring to.
Obama signed an executive order in July 2009 allowing more people to visit Cuba and thereby travel outside the range of U.S. regulations, while also easing some trade and financial restrictions. That coincided with an increase in visitors and commerce between the U.S. and Cuba.
But Obama has seen a drop in both visits and money flow since lifting restrictions on Cuban Americans traveling to the island, and his administration is considering new policies after former U.S. President George W. Bush said it should be easier for Cuban refugees to be relocated.
Castro denounced U.S. attempts to destabilize the Communist government of Fidel Castro, Raul’s older brother, in recent months, saying they contained only “mass propaganda.”
In an apparent change of tack, he reiterated longstanding warnings that U.S. attempts to impede the country’s export and import could harm the Cuban economy.
“We do not accept a blockade,” he said. “It is a crime against humanity and nullifies all agreements signed between the United States and Cuba.”
(Additional reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Leslie Adler)