MIAMI (CBSMiami) – President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro stood before the United Nations General Assembly Monday, covering controversial topics like the possible end of the embargo against Cuba.
On Monday morning, the president arrived at the U.N. building in New York under very heavy security and spoke about various topics including the United States’ new relationship with Cuba and where it should go in the future.
“For 50 years the United States pursued a Cuba policy that failed to improve the lives of the Cuban people. We changed that,” said the president. “We continue to have differences with the Cuban government. We will continue to stand up for human rights but we address these issues through diplomatic relations and increase commerce and people to people ties.”
To cheers, the president predicted Congress would eventually vote to lift the embargo on the island nation.
“As these contacts yield progress, I am confident that our Congress will inevitably lift an embargo that should not be in place anymore,” said the president. “Change won’t come overnight to Cuba but I’m confident that openness, not coercion will support the reforms and better the life the Cuban people deserve.”
Cuban leader Raul Castro addressed the assembly later on Monday, demanding for the embargo on Cuba be lifted.
“Now a long and complex process begins towards the normalization of relations but this will only be achieved with the end of the financial and economic blockade on Cuba,” said Castro.
He went on to list a number of requirements for both nations to fully return to normal relations. Among them, financial compensation for what he calls the “human and economic damages they still endure” due to the embargo.
Castro also called for the return of the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba, the cessation of television and radio broadcasts that are what he called “subversive” and “destabilizing” to the island.
On Tuesday, Castro will have his first formal meeting with President Barack Obama.
But not all agree with the way things are going between the U.S. and the island nation.
A Cuban woman who lives in Queens, Ana Martinez, planned to join a group of Miami protesters on Monday who oppose the plan to lift the embargo and disagrees with how relations were re-established.
“The have an agenda, okay, they have an agenda,” said Martinez. “I don’t know for how many months they do secret negotiation. That’s not the American way.”
CBS4’s Ted Scouten is in New York and will be reporting on Castro’s address to the UN and his meeting with President Obama.
Click here to read more about Cuba-U.S. relations.