Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, Cuban dictator Raúl Castro insisted that, without the transfer of sovereignty of Guantánamo Bay to the communist regime and the censorship of U.S. broadcasts condemning human rights violations, the normalization of relations with the United States cannot occur.
In a rambling speech that demanded reparations for slavery to an unnamed assortment of Caribbean nations and unspecified attention to climate change, Castro condemned human rights activists and Western nations seeking the advancement and development of autocracies. He particularly condemned “the distortion of the advancement and protection of human rights used with a selective and discriminatory approach to validate and impose political decisions” and the “irrational and unsustainable consumerism” that he alleged is exacerbating climate change.
A pillar of international relations, Castro asserted, is the “profound respect for the inalienable right of every state to choose their social, economic, and cultural system.” He followed this with praise for Venezuela’s socialist dictatorship and fellow ally Ecuador, as well as a call for Puerto Rico to leave the United States. “The people of Puerto Rico deserve to be free and independent after more than a century of colonial domination,” he stated.
During the last referendum on changing its status, only 5% of Puerto Ricans voted for independence. 61% voted for Puerto Rico to be fully annex into America as a U.S. state.
Castro saved the topic of associating with the United States diplomatically for last, and asserted a number of demands that he has previously made publicly, but apparently Cuban diplomats have not successfully yet at the bargaining table. Total normalization of relations, Castro insisted, “this will only be achieved with the end of the economic, commercial, and financial blockade against Cuba, the return to our country of the land illegally occupied in Guantánamo Bay,” and “the cessation of radio and television broadcasts meant to destabilize.” He also demanded in vague terms that “our people [be] compensated for the human and economic damages they still endure.”
The “radio and television broadcasts” Castro referenced are free public broadcasts on Radio and TV Martí, publicly-funded American organizations that focus on coverage of political happenings of interest to a Cuban and Cuban-American audience. In calling for the censorship of the Martí broadcasts, Castro is imploring President Obama to violate the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Regarding the embargo, the United States has largely lifted its restrictions on the island. As a consequence of the deal President Obama brokered with the communist regime, travel and business restrictions on Cuba have largely been lifted.
Cubans are almost entirely prevented from freely conducting business, however, and cannot travel out of the country without special permits from the government. Cubans can only travel freely to other ally nations, like Russia and Cambodia. Cubans are also limited in their right to receive gifts from American citizens; in September 2014, Cuban significantly strengthened its embargo on American products entering the island.