Cuban Diplomat Josefina Vidal Presented with LASA Award

HAVANA, Cuba, May 29 (acn) The 34th Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) granted Josefina Vidal, director general of the United States Department of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, the prize given by the organization.

Vidal received in New York the LASA Award for her contribution to the new scenario of relations between Cuba and the U.S., reported the Cuban television newscast.

Upon receiving the acknowledgement, she said she extended it to the Cuban people and the leaders of the Revolution who have managed to lead, with intelligence and in an accurate way, the process of dialogue with the northern country.

The Cuban diplomat, while speaking at the second session of the Congress of LASA, reiterated the willingness of the island to promote better relations with the United States, a scenario that she said goes through changes to leave behind the traditional hostility of Washington, translated into policies such as the blockade and subversive programs.

In the four-day forum that started on Friday, the top official reviewed the achievements and challenges of relationships since December 17, 2014, when presidents Raul Castro and Barack Obama announced the decision to seek the normalization of ties, Prensa Latina reported.

In the presence of dozens of academicians, intellectuals and scholars of Latin America and the Cuban-American scenario, she recalled the full validity of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by Washington on Cuba for over half a century now and the occupation of territory at the Naval Base of Guantanamo.

She also mentioned the preferential immigration policy for Cuban citizens, programs aimed at promoting internal changes and the illegal radio and television broadcasts.

Vidal highlighted the removal of Cuba from the unilateral list of countries sponsoring terrorism, the resumption of diplomatic relations, the reopening of embassies in Havana and Washington DC, the high-level visits and the signing of cooperation agreements in areas of mutual interest.

Likewise, she also highlighted the three meetings held between Raul Castro and Obama, and the U.S. president’s trip to the island in March, which she considered a boost to the process of rapprochement.

For the board of directors of the Foreign Ministry these are steps forward in the cooperation and political-diplomatic areas, the fruit of professional conversations, based on equality and reciprocity.

We have also had the first results in the economic and commercial sector, however, they are not of the same magnitude of those mentioned, she warned at the meeting of the second day of the 34th Congress of LASA.

She specified that results are not as significant due to the full implementation of the blockade, a complex web of laws and measures that impose restrictions on Cuba for its exports and imports, and almost totally ban U.S. investments on the island.

The top official acknowledged the four packages of executive actions established by Obama to modify the implementation of some aspects of the economic, commercial and financial siege.

In that regard, she stressed that they are insufficient to promote trade links, among other things, because it has not been possible to normalize an essential banking relationship.

What has been achieved is not irrelevant, but we must do much more to advance towards normalization. These are the first steps of what in the future could be a new stage of relations between Cuba and the United States, she asserted at the Congress of LASA, which celebrates its 50 years of existence.

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