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U.S. President Barack Obama misconstrued Cuban leader Raul Castro's recent comments
U.S. President Barack Obama misconstrued Cuban leader Raul Castro's recent comments on Havana's willingness for dialogue with Washington, Fidel Castro has said.

In his "Obama and the Blockade" article, published by Cuban media late on Tuesday, the father of the Cuban Revolution commented on the U.S. leader's words after the end of the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

''The fact that you had Raul Castro say he's willing to have his government discuss with ours not just issues of lifting the embargo, but issues of human rights, political prisoners, that's a sign of progress,'' Obama said on Sunday at a news conference. "And so we're going to explore and see if we can make some further steps. . . . There are some things that the Cuban government could do.''

However, Castro said that Obama had failed to realize that the Cuban president's statement was an indication of Raul's "bravery and belief in the principles of the Revolution."

He also said that "no one should be surprised that he [Raul Castro] spoke of the pardoning of those people jailed in March 2003, and that they would be sent to the U.S. if that country was ready to free the Heroic Five."

In March 2003, Cuban authorities arrested several dozen people on charges of collaborating with American diplomats. Havana believes they were hired by the U.S. and they were sentenced to prison for terms ranging from 6 to 28 years.

The "Heroic Five" were arrested in the U.S. during an FBI operation more than 10 years ago for activities the U.S. believed threatened the country's national security. Three of the Cubans received life terms in prison, two others were jailed for 15 and 19 years. Havana insists that they are innocent, saying that the accused were collecting information on terrorist activities by anti-Castro groups in Miami.

The U.S. State Department refused a prisoner exchange by Cuba last December.

During the Summit of the Americas, Latin American leaders encouraged Obama to end the embargo, which has been a major handicap for the Cuban economy for almost half a century.

Last week, Obama announced that Americans with relatives in Cuba would be able to visit and send money to the Caribbean island.

However, he also said again that the U.S. would not end its trade embargo against the communist island without steps from Cuba's leaders on lifting restrictions on its own people.

Fidel Castro responded by saying in an article that, "The cruel blockade against the Cuban people costs lives, and results in suffering."


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