In another apparent attempt to get a high-profile message to Washington, Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs during a swing through Europe repeated the island’s desire to maintain the level of dialogue and cooperation that started under former President Barack Obama.
“The current government of the United States has said it is reviewing its policy towards Cuba. We reiterate our readiness for dialogue and cooperation on the basis of the absolute respect for our sovereignty,” Bruno Rodríguez told Spain’s RTVE in an interview televised Saturday.
Cuban ruler Raúl Castro made a similar offer of dialogue just a few days following Trump’s inauguration in January.
Rodríguez, who visited several European countries last week, did not directly answer a question about whether his government has had any contact with the Trump administration. But his cagey response indicates that formal interaction between both nations has not yet occurred.
“Naturally, there are intense relations between the U.S. and Cuba, due to our proximity,” Rodríguez said. “There has been a significant increase in travelers…Cooperation agreements that were signed during the last period are being implemented and there are some contacts at the level of the U.S. government agencies and its Cuban counterparts on that basis.”
The foreign minister also refrained from commenting on Trump’s time in office thus far.
“Trump is the president of the United States, I don’t vote in that country,” Rodríguez simply stated, adding that he was hopeful that Cuba and the U.S. could maintain “a civilized relationship despite the profound differences — which are known — that exist between the two governments.”
WE REITERATE OUR READINESS FOR DIALOGUE AND COOPERATION ON THE BASIS OF THE ABSOLUTE RESPECT FOR OUR SOVEREIGNTY.
Bruno Rodríguez, Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs
Cuba’s highest-ranking diplomat also declined to answer a question about his government’s succession plans in 2018, when general elections are expected to take place and Castro himself has publicly stated that he will resign from the presidency.
“We will have to wait for the election results,” Rodríguez said.
“Indeed, there will be general elections. Municipal and provincial representatives will be elected, and also deputies, to the National Assembly, and they will elect the President of the State Council and Council of Ministers,” he said, without making a direct reference about Castro leaving his post.
Asked if there would be changes on the island when Cuba finally has a president without Castro as a surname, Rodríguez responded: “Cuba is changing all the time…There is no revolution that is not permanently undergoing renewal.”
Rodríguez was also cautious with his words when asked about the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela, a close ally. Cuba is monitoring the current situation, he said, “with confidence in the Venezuelan people, in whom we recognize have the full capacity to find solutions to their problems.
“We expect the international community to do the same,” he added.
Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres