Obama: Cuban reforms not enough
US President Barack Obama criticised the pace of change in Cuba on Monday, saying the communist-run island has not been aggressive enough in opening its economy or its political system.
Speaking to Spanish-speaking reporters in Washington, the US president said Cuba's government has expressed its intention to loosen up its economy to allow businesses to operate more freely, but US officials still are waiting to see sufficient results.
“We have not seen evidence they have been sufficiently aggressive in changing their policies economically, and certainly have not been aggressive enough when it comes to liberating political prisoners and giving people the opportunity to speak their minds,” he said.
President Raul Castro has spearheaded changes to allow Cubans to work for themselves in almost 200 approved activities, hire employees and rent out rooms and cars. He has said the measures are crucial to rescuing Cuba's cash-strapped economy. Many of the measures were announced in a Communist Party congress in April.
Obama said the time has come for change on the island, referring to Cuba as “throwback to the 1960s.”
“Obviously it's not working. The standards of living are not improving significantly. In fact, they are deteriorating,” he said.
Washington has maintained a 50-year-long economic embargo against the island, though Obama relaxed the policy to allow unlimited remittances by Cuban-Americans. - Sapa-AP