The first speech from the president of Cuba, Raul Castro, at the Summit of the Americas, received a standing ovation in the room where the meeting is being held and grabbed the attention of hundreds of journalists in the press room installed in the Atlapa Convention Center.
“It was time for me to speak here” on behalf of Cuba, said the Cuban leader, who on Friday joined the US President Barack Obama, in a historic moment when they shook hands at the opening of the Seventh Summit of the Americas.
The announcement of Castro’s speech of the host country’s president, Juan Carlos Varela, immediately after the words of the president of the United States, provoked a loud and long applause from the heads of state and official delegations.
In the newsroom, reporters crowded in front of the giant screen to follow closely the discourse of the Cuban leader, who provoked laughter throughout his audience when he confessed that he would make “a great effort” to limit his historic speech to the eight minutes established by protocol.
“And as the six summits that excluded [Cuba] should count, six times eight is 48,” the president of Cuba joked.
During his oration, Raul Castro exempted the United States president, Barack Obama, from responsibility for the policy developed against the Caribbean island by the “ten presidents” preceding him.
The Cuban president called Obama “honest” and expressly apologized for getting emotional “in defense of the Revolution.”
However, the speech was peppered with historic allusions and complaints about the actions of the United States toward the island. He also referred to the Internet because “it works for the best […] and it works for the worst.” The issue of new technologies has played a major leading role in several of the speeches at this Summit of the Americas.
Raul Castro also expressed today his “resolute and real support for the sister republic of Venezuela and the legitimate government of Nicolas Maduro.”
“Venezuela is not and cannot be a threat to the national security of a superpower like the United States, and it is positive that the US president Barack Obama has recognized that,” added Castro during his speech to the Seventh Summit of the Americas that is unfolding in Panama.