Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel accused the Trump administration on Saturday of dragging relations with the United States to their worst level in decades and called on Cubans to strengthen the Communist-run country’s defenses and economy, ONA reports citing BBC.
Diaz-Canel, in a speech closing the National Assembly, said the United States is engaging in an “asphyxiating financial persecution that makes the import of goods and resources of primary necessity particularly difficult.”
The Cuban economy has stagnated in recent years in tandem with the implosion of strategic ally Venezuela, resulting in cuts in fuel and energy use by state entities and this year shortages of basic goods such as bread, chicken and eggs.
An increase in U.S. sanctions under President Donald Trump is also making it even harder for cash-strapped Cuba to get credit from financial institutions.
Cuba’s Economy Minister Alejandro Gil Fernandez earlier in the day called on the government to tighten belts further and seek alternatives to imports, as foreign exchange earnings decline and credit for supplies and investment become more difficult to find.
“Exports are not growing as planned. The levels of foreign investment that the economy demands are not materializing,” Gil said. “We can forecast the import plan will not be fulfilled because the credits we need cannot be finalized due to the arrears of payments of debts.”