Pope condemns US blockade

Campaign News | Saturday, 8 January 2005

Cuba needs space to develop, he says

VATICAN CITY 8 Jan - Pope John Paul II has repeated his condemnation of the US economic blockade against Cuba, saying the island nation needed proper conditions for its development.

The Pope, who has spoken out against the embargo in the past, made his comments at a ceremony on Saturday at which Havana's new ambassador to the Vatican presented his credentials.

"The Holy See strongly desires that obstacles which block free communication and exchange between the Cuban nation and part of the international community be overcome soon, thus reinforcing through respectful and open dialogue with everyone, the conditions necessary for real development," he said.

John Paul II also called on the Cuban authorities "to continue their sustained efforts in the fields of health, education and culture," which he said were "among the pillars of the edifice of peace, which is not merely the absence of war."

The Bush administration intensified Washington's embargo against Cuba last year, restricting visits by Cuban emigres to their families. Havana responded by banning the use of the U.S. dollar in Cuba.

The 84-year-old Pope made an historic visit to Cuba in 1998.


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