Obama Says He Welcomes Criticism From Raul Castro

March 21, 2016

President Barack Obama said he welcomed Cuban president Raul Castro's criticism of the United States when it concerns areas "where he feels we're falling short" during their joint press conference in Havana on Monday.

Cuba, a notorious abuser of human rights, has been effectively ruled by Castro and his brother, Fidel, since 1959.

"And the goal of the human rights dialogue is not for the United States to dictate to Cuba how they should govern themselves but to make sure that we are having a frank and candid conversation around this issue, and hopefully that we can learn from each other," Obama said.

"I actually welcome President Castro commenting on some of the areas where he feels that we're falling short, because, I think we, we should not be immune or afraid of criticism or discussion as well," Obama said.

Obama seemed to explain that Cuba's disregard for human rights stems from a disagreement on what those rights are.

"One of the impediments to strengthening those ties is these disagreements around human rights and democracy," Obama said. "And to the extent that we can have a good conversation about that and to actually make progress, that I think will allow us to see the full flowering of a relationship that is possible."