Cuban president Raul Castro dismissed speculation that Cuba will reform and drop Communism in the wake of President Barack Obama opening up talks and weakening the U.S.’s long-standing embargo against the country.
“[W]e must not expect that in order for relations with the United States to improve, Cuba will abandon the ideas that it has struggled for,” Castro declared in an address to Cuba’s National Assembly Saturday, The Associated Press reports.
He was joined in his speech by the three Cuban spies released by the White House in exchange for a CIA agent in the custody of the communist state. The spies received a standing ovation from the parliament and Castro praised the release of his agents as a “just decision.”
The three men were apart of a group dubbed the “Cuban Five” that were tasked with spying on the Cuban-American community in Florida. That community is bitterly hostile to the Castro regime and many came to America to escape persecution from the island’s present rulers.
The Cuban dictator concluded his speech with a “Viva Fidel!” salute to his brother and Cuba’s previous ruler, Fidel Castro. Fidel led the communist takeover of Cuba in 1959 and lorded over the country for nearly 50 years until health problems forced him to hand over leadership to his younger brother in 2006.
Cuba, like most communist states, is dominated by a one-party political system and a government-controlled economy. Also, like many communist states, it is very poor and has an extensive record of human rights’ abuses.
Obama expressed hope earlier this week that a new policy towards Cuba — which includes allowing some exports to the beleaguered nation and removing travel restrictions — would encourage reform within the island country’s communist system.