President Obama on Cuba Policy

Thursday, January 31, 2013
Transcript of U.S. President Barack Obama's interview on Telemundo yesterday:

QUESTION:  Yesterday Secretary Clinton-- referring to Cuba said it's a dictatorship that must change in the near future. That policy of your administration, of no normalization until there's democratization, do you see that changing in your second term with a new secretary of State?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, you know-- we have tried to-- make overtures that were good for the Cuban people. You know, loosening up remittances from family members. Loosening up travel for family members back to Cuba. Because our view has been that that empowers civil society inside of Cuba. That empowers people-- who, you know, wanna have a voice in Cuba.

But what we've also said is-- is that-- in order for us to see an actual normalization-- of the relations between-- the United States and Cuba, that we have to do something about all those political prisoners-- who are still there. We've gotta do something about just basic freedoms of-- of the press and-- and assembly.

We don't expect every country to operate the way we do. And obviously we do business with a lot of countries around the world-- that don't meet our standards in terms of-- you know, constitutions and rights. But we do think it's important for us to continue to push to make sure that-- the Cuban people themselves-- have a voice in their lives.

And-- my hope is is that-- slowly but surely-- the Cuban leadership begins to recognize, "It's time to join the 21st century." You know, it's one thing to have cars from the 1950s. It's another thing when your whole political ideology-- is coming out-- is-- is 50 years or s-- or 60 years old and-- and it's been proven not to work.

And-- I think that we can have-- progress over the next four years. I'm happy to engage it. I think it would be good for the Cuban people. But-- but it's-- it's gotta be a two way street. It can't just be-- that we look away completely from-- you know, the very sad circumstances that a lot of Cubans-- still live in.