Emotional Castro says Cuba blockade not Obama's fault
PANAMA CITY (AP) Cuban President Raul Castro delivered a stunning defense of President Barack Obama on Saturday, absolving him of responsibility for the U.S. blockade against Cuba hours before the two were expected to hold the first major meeting between a U.S. and Cuban president in more than half a century.
Castro, in his speech to the Summit of the Americas, ran through an exhaustive history of perceived Cuban grievances against the U.S. over more than a century, in a vivid display of how raw emotions still run over U.S. attempts to undermine Cuba's government. Then in an abrupt about face, he said there were many U.S. presidents at fault for that history but that Obama wasn't one of them.
"I apologize to President Obama and to others here. I have told President Obama that I get very emotional talking about the revolution," Castro said. "I apologize to him because President Obama had no responsibility for this."
"In my opinion, President Obama is an honest man," Castro added, a remarkable vote of confidence from the leader of a country that hasn't had diplomatic relations with the U.S. in more than 50 years.
Castro's comments came as he and Obama were expected to meet on the sidelines of the summit in Panama City in a bid to inject fresh momentum into their efforts to restore normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba.