Mexico president calls for end to Cuba trade embargo after protests

·1-min read
Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador delivers a speech on the third anniversary of his presidential election victory at National Palace in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba should be ended to help its people, after the biggest anti-government protests in decades broke out on the island fueled by anger over shortages in basic goods.

"The truth is that if one wanted to help Cuba, the first thing that should be done is to suspend the blockade of Cuba as the majority of countries in the world are asking," Lopez Obrador told a news conference.

"That would be a truly humanitarian gesture," he added. "No country in the world should be fenced in, blockaded."

Thousands of Cubans on Sunday joined street demonstrations from Havana to Santiago chanting "freedom", and calling for President Miguel Diaz-Canel to step down.

Lopez Obrador, one of the most prominent leftists in Latin America, expressed his solidarity with the Cuban people and urged countries not to intervene in the Communist-run country, nor to exploit the situation for political ends.

Urging a peaceful resolution to the protests, Lopez Obrador said Mexico would be ready to send medicines, vaccines and food to Cuba if its government requested it.

The protests erupted amid Cuba's worst economic crisis since the fall of former ally the Soviet Union in the 1990s and a surge in coronavirus cases, with people angry over goods shortages, curbs on civil liberties and the handling of the pandemic.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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