Mon Mar 6, 2017 6:55AM
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (photo by AFP)
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (photo by AFP)

Cuban President Raul Castro has strongly criticized the president of the United States for his “irrational” and “egotistical” views on immigration and trade.

Castro said at a summit of leftist leaders in Venezuela on Sunday that US President Donald Trump’s new immigration ban and his plans to construct a border wall to stop Mexican immigrants from entering the country were “irrational.”

He added that the border wall aimed to block all the Latin American people from entering the US and not just Mexicans. The Cuban president said an “unfair international economic system” was causing growing inequality and poverty, forcing people to migrate.

Trump “threatens to unleash an extreme and egotistical trade policy that will impact the competitiveness of our foreign trade, violate environmental agreements... hunt down and deport migrants,” Castro said. “You can’t contain poverty, catastrophes, and migrants with walls, but with cooperation, understanding and peace.”

The US and Cuba have had strained ties for several decades. In December 2014, former US president Barack Obama and Castro agreed to normalize the relations between their countries. Obama, a Democrat, used executive orders to circumvent the longstanding US trade embargo on Cuba and ease some restrictions on travel and business. The embargo can only be lifted by the US Congress, which is currently controlled by Republicans.

A US Border Patrol vehicle is seen next to a sign that warns of dangerous currents in the Rio Grande River on the US-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, February 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Travel to the Caribbean island from the United States has increased, with the start of direct flights and cruises, but no manufacturing or significant trade deals have been agreed yet.

Trump said last month after having dinner with Florida Senator Marco Rubio — himself the son of Cuban immigrants who nevertheless strongly opposes normalizing relations with Cuba — that he and Rubio shared views on Cuba.

During the election campaign, Trump had promised to renegotiate what he called a “better deal” with Cuba if elected.

The White House said last month that it was in the middle of “a full review of all US policies toward Cuba.”