France’s Hollande renews calls for end to US-Cuba embargo

French president François Hollande renewed calls Sunday for the US embargo of Cuba to be dropped following the death of former Cuban president Fidel Castro.

“I want, on the occasion of the death of Fidel Castro, to again insist that the embargo that penalises Cuba should be definitively lifted,” Hollande said during a summit of French-speaking countries in Madagascar. He added that an end to the embargo would allow Cuba to “be fully part of the international community [and] regarded as a partner”.

In an earlier statement, Hollande called the Cuban leader, who passed away Friday at the age of 90, “a towering figure of the 20th century”, though Hollande also mentioned his “human rights abuses”.

“He incarnated the Cuban revolution, in both its hopes and subsequent disillusionments,” Hollande added.

Hollande met Castro in May 2015 during a trip to Cuba, at which time he also called for an end to the trade embargo on Cuba.

“Anything France can do to make sure … the opening is confirmed, so that the measures that have so harmed the development of Cuba can be rescinded … this is what has to be done,” Hollande said in an exchange with students at Havana University.

France also helped lead the European Union’s rapprochement with Cuba, with whom it had suspended relations from 2003 to 2014 over a crackdown on journalists and activists.

Hollande’s trip to Cuba marked the first time a Western head of state visited the island after Havana and Washington announced a normalisation to their relations in December 2014.

Introduced in the early 1960s, the trade embargo was designed to starve Castro’s regime of US currency. Despite the recent restoration of diplomatic relations with Washington under President Obama, the embargo remains largely in place today, and US President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to reverse Obama’s rapprochement.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)

Date created : 2016-11-28

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