Cuban president criticises Trump attitude

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel says his government wants dialogue but only as equals.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel says his government wants dialogue but only as equals. Photo: Getty

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel says his government cannot talk with US President Donald Trump as long as Trump’s administration keeps its “abnormal” attitude toward the Communist-run island.

“We want to dialogue, but it must be as equals,” Mr Diaz-Canel said in an interview with Venezuela-based television station Telesur broadcast on Sunday, echoing his predecessor and mentor, Raul Castro.

“We do not accept impositions and we are not willing to make concessions,” he said in his first interview since taking office in April.

Cuban-US relations have deteriorated sharply since Mr Trump took office and began partially rolling back the historic detente agreed by his predecessor Barack Obama after decades of hostility.

They have also worsened over what the United States says were a spate of health attacks on its diplomats based in Havana. Cuba denies any involvement.

Mr Diaz-Canel talks to Raul Castro, head of Cuba’s Communist Party. Photo: Getty

“Cuba does not attack, Cuba defends, Cuba shares,” said Mr Diaz-Canel, who referred many times throughout the interview to Fidel Castro, the late leader of the 1959 revolution, and his younger brother, Raul Castro.

Raul Castro, 87, remains head of the Communist Party until 2021 and is “like a father” to Mr Diaz-Canel, according to the 58-year-old president who said they talk nearly every day.

Mr Diaz-Canel praised Cuba’s long-standing alliance with Venezuela but also said he welcomed the presidential victory of leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico that was “encouraging” for Latin America.

On the topic of a draft new constitution being debated at community meetings throughout Cuba, Mr Diaz-Canel said the removal of the word “communism” did not mean Cuba was renouncing that aspiration.

The document, which should replace a Cold War-era constitution, still refers to socialism, which implies communism, he said.

Mr Diaz-Canel said he supported the proposed change to the constitution to allow for same-sex marriage.

“I defend there being no kind of discrimination,” he said, although it was up to the Cuban people to decide whether to include the change.

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