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Cuba calls Trump speech on island 'grotesque spectacle'


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- Alexis Shaw | AOL.com
VIENNA, June 19 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's speech on Cuba was a "grotesque spectacle," but the island's government will continue working towards better relations with the majority of Americans who back detente, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Monday.

Trump announced a partial rollback of the normalization of relations with Cuba on Friday in Miami, the heartland of Cuban exiles, in a theater named after the leader of the failed U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of the island in 1961.

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"It was a grotesque spectacle straight from the Cold War," Rodriguez said in Vienna, during a tour of European countries, in a news conference broadcast live in Cuba.

Trump's speech before an audience that included people Cuba considers terrorists, included dramatic flourishes like a Cuban- American exile playing the U.S. national anthem on his violin.

The U.S. president stopped short of breaking diplomatic relations with Cuba, restored in 2015 after more than five decades of hostility and leaves many recent agreements between the two countries intact.

However, it will tighten restrictions on Americans traveling to the Caribbean island, hurting the booming Cuban tourism industry and clamp down on U.S. business dealings with Cuba's military.

"It is necessary to wait for the U.S. government to announce regulations that implement these measures before opining on their reach and depth," Rodriguez said.

He added, however, that they would inevitably hit U.S. companies and citizens by restricting their ability to invest in or travel to Cuba, while also hurting the Cuban people.

"It will wreak economic damage not just on Cuba's state companies but also on the cooperatives and private sector workers," he said.

Moody's Investor Service released a report on Monday saying the U.S. revision of its Cuban policy was "credit negative" for the island, coming at a time when the country was already suffering liquidity problems due to weakening economic support from its crisis-wracked ally Venezuela.

The Cuban foreign minister said Trump's hope of separating the people from the military, who were simply "the people in uniform," was "infantile."

'On the contrary, these measures reinforce our patriotism, our dignity and our decision to defend national independence by all means," he said.

Meanwhile, the partial rollback of the detente would fall flat with the majority of Americans, who supported the normalization of relations with Cuba, and with whom the country would continue working, Rodriguez added.

In response to Trump's demand to return fugitives sought by the United States, Rodriguez said Cuba considered them fighters for civil liberties.

"These persons will not be returned to the United States," he said. (Reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna; Writing by Sarah Marsh in Havana; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and W Simon)

Daily life in and around Cuba

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  • CUBA/
    A vintage car decorated with a Cuban flag and carrying tourists waits in line to fill up with fuel at a gas station along the seafront boulevard "El Malecon" in Havana, January 12, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini (CUBA - Tags: TRANSPORT BUSINESS COMMODITIES ENERGY SOCIETY TRAVEL)
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  • CUBA-USA/
    A taxi driver drives a vintage car in downtown Havana, January 16, 2015. The United States rolled out a sweeping set of measures on Thursday to significantly ease the half-century-old embargo against Cuba, opening up the country to expanded travel, trade and financial activities. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini (CUBA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY TRANSPORT)
  • CUBA-USA/
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  • CUBA-CIGARS/
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  • CUBA-USA/
    Cuba's Capitol, or El Capitolio as it is called by Cubans, is seen in Havana, July 1, 2015. The United States and Cuba on Wednesday formally agreed to restore diplomatic ties that had been severed for 54 years, fulfilling a pledge made six months ago by the former Cold War enemies. U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro exchanged letters agreeing to reopen embassies in each other's capitals, with the Cubans saying that could happen as soon as July 20. The Capitolio, which resembles the U.S. Capitol in Washington, was built in 1929 and was the seat of the government until after the 1959 revolution. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
  • CUBA-USA/CAPITOL
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  • CUBA-YOUTH/
    Dancer Cristian Perez, 20, (R) and informatics student Ariana Dexido, 17, dance near the sea in Havana, Cuba, July 12, 2015. Picture taken July 12, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
  • CUBA-YOUTH/
    Mechanic and salsa dance instructor Ariel Domninguez, 26, (L), gives a class to Jarman Frash, 25, a medical student from Germany in Havana, February 4, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
  • CUBA-TOURISM/
    Tourists dance during a salsa class at the beach in Varadero, Cuba, August 26, 2015. Cubans are flocking to the beach in record numbers before a possible end to the U.S. travel ban that would open the gates to American tourists and bump up prices. Picture taken on August 26, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
  • CUBA-TOURISM/
    Retiree Madeline Barcelo swims at the beach with her granddaughter in Varadero, Cuba, August 26, 2015. Cubans are flocking to the beach in record numbers before a possible end to the U.S. travel ban that would open the gates to American tourists and bump up prices. Picture taken August 26, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
  • CUBA-TOURISM/
    Human resources worker Carmen Oivedo (R) talks to her daughters during their vacations at the beach in Varadero, Cuba, August 26, 2015. Cubans are flocking to the beach in record numbers before a possible end to the U.S. travel ban that would open the gates to American tourists and bump up prices. Picture taken on August 26, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
  • CUBA-TOURISM/
    Cuban tourists sail in a rented sailboat at the beach in Varadero, Cuba, August 26, 2015. Cubans are flocking to the beach in record numbers before a possible end to the U.S. travel ban that would open the gates to American tourists and bump up prices. Picture taken on August 26, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
  • CUBA-DAILYLIFE/
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  • CUBA-ANNIVERSARY/
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  • CUBA-USA/MAIL
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