Iconic former Cuban leader Fidel Castro comments on the push for a restoration of Cuban-American ties

Retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro broke his silence Monday on rapprochement with the United States, giving guarded approval to the process now underway to establish diplomatic ties between the two countries.

“I don’t trust the policy of the United States… but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts,” iconic former Cuban leader Fidel Castro commented.

This is the first time the revolutionary ex-president has spoken publicly since Raúl Castro and President Barack Obama announced Dec. 17 that the two countries planned to reestablish diplomatic relations after 53 years of isolation, there has been silence from Fidel Castro about his old nemesis.

The comments also come on the heels of Obama’s Congressional push to lift the five-decade Cuban embargo and his granting the State Department six months to review Cuba’s status on the terror list.

Fidel Castro breaks silence on U.S.-Cuba reconciliation
U.S. President Barack Obama (C) delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington (Reuters / Mandel Ngan)

Not everyone in Washington was happy about Obama’s “hand of friendship to the Cuban people.” Republicans John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Jeb Bush had harsh words – especially when it came to the prospect of opening an embassy in Havana.

A joint statement from McCain and Graham called the new initiative an “appeasement of autocratic dictators, thugs and adversaries, which is dimi nishing America’s influence in the world.” They also believe “America and the values it stands for is in retreat and decline.”

In a message Castro sent to the University Students Federation, he said: “Defending peace is the duty of everyone. Any peaceful or negotiated solution to the problems between the United States and the peoples or any people of Latin America that doesn’t imply force or the use of force should be treated in accordance with international norms and principles.”

Fidel Castro breaks silence on U.S.-Cuba
Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro (Reuters / Desmond Boylan)

“We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the peoples of the world, among them our political adversaries,” said Castro, 88, in a message that also recalled his own entrance to the University of Havana 70 years ago.

Although Castro had reconciliatory words on the relationship with the US, the former president has still not voiced his opinion on his younger brother’s decision to reconcile with Cuba’s age-old enemy – the same country that tried numerous times to assassinate Fidel, which is a world record.

“Cuba’s president has taken steps within his range of authority and the powers granted him by the National Assembly, and the Communist Party of Cuba,” Fidel’s measured words read.

He closed his message to the students by saying: “The serious dangers that threaten humanity today should give way to rules that are compatible with human dignity. No country is excluded from such rights. With this spirit I have fought and will continue fighting until my last breath.”

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