Latin American leaders, Cuban dissidents urge Obama to lift sanctions (Lead)

November 6th, 2008 - 7:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaLa Paz(Bolivia)/Havana, Nov 6 (Prensa Latina) Latin America’s two leftist leaders have joined Cuban dissidents calling on US president-elect Barack Obama to lift the decades-old blockade on Cuba.Bolivian President Evo Morales and Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said they hoped the new administration of Obama, who has vowed to bring in change in US policies, would “lift the Washington-imposed economic, trade and financial blockade as well as withdraw US troops from some countries”.

Lula and Peruvian opposition leader nationalist Ollanta Humala said that the policy of siege on Cuba “has no human explanation”.

Leaders of Mexico, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil and Argentina Wednesday hailed the victory of Democrat Barack Obama in the US presidential election and expressed hope that America’s first black president would refurbish the image of America as a true democracy.

Lula last week had equated the victory of Obama with the leftist victory in some Latin American countries.

Cuban dissidents have expressed hope that Obama’s election would lead to easing of the US economic embargo on the communist-ruled island nation.

The dissidents said they hope the new president would live up to his campaign promise to end the outgoing Bush administration’s limits on the ability of Cuban Americans to visit the island and send money to their relatives here.

“The issue of Cuba has been more theoretical than real in the face of the priorities of the United States; it has been a matter of confrontation and now it will be a matter of conversation,” former political prisoner Hector Palacios, leader of the Liberal Unity party, told reporters in Havana.

“It’s very good that he will meet (Cuban President) Raul Castro,” the dissident said, referring to Obama’s stated willingness to talk to all governments.

He said such dialogue by Washington could persuade Havana to stop its repressive and rigid policies.

“If the Cuban government wants to resolve the problems, it now has the chance, it has found a man who wants to talk,” Palacios said.

Another former political detainee, economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe, said given Obama’s readiness for dialogue and the Cuban president’s statement he would talk to the winner of the US election, “the ball is in Raul Castro’s court”.

The dissidents said with the first black man as the boss in the White House, Cuba could no longer accuse US of racist approach.

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