Top Story — At a speech celebrating Cuba’s Revolution Day on Thursday, Cuban President Raúl Castro said he was willing to sit down for a discussion with the U.S. government over relations between the two countries. “If they want to talk, we will talk,” said Castro, saying that Cuba was willing to discuss the U.S. government’s concern over human rights, democracy and freedom of the press as long as the conversation was one between equals. Castro indicated that the U.S. would need to be willing to listen to Cuba’s concerns on those issues as well, stressing that Cuba is “nobody’s colony, nobody’s puppet”. Mike Hammer, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. State Department, said later that the two countries could not enter into meaningful dialogue until Cuba instituted democratic reforms and released Alan Gross, a U.S. contractor currently serving a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba for bringing satellite equipment into the country.
Read more from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Thousands of protesters demonstrated in front of Mexico’s Televisa studios, accusing the country’s biggest network of biased elections coverage.
- Mexico’s government human rights commission said that only 24 of 126 attacks against journalists and media outlets have been investigated since 2000.
- Spanish-language media giant Univision issued an apology after mistakenly wishing U.S. territory Puerto Rico a happy independence day.
- Dominican officials said a pregnant teenager sick with leukemia has started receiving chemotherapy despite controversy over the effects on the fetus.
- The Committee for Freedom of Expression in Honduras says that an incumbent mayor in the city of Talanga has censored media outlets that broadcast interviews with his opponents.
- Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has skipped bail and apparently fled Germany after being charged with endangering the crew of a Costa Rican fishing vessel he says was illegally finning sharks.
- Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro announced that Venezuela would soon tender its formal resignation from the OAS, as well as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.
- An Ecuadorean court has raised the amount Chevron must pay indigenous plaintiffs for soil contamination, increasing damages from $18 billion to over $19 billion.
- Peruvian President Ollanta Humala’s Gana Peru party held onto its leadership in congress in a vote Thursday.
- The Mercosur Federation of Rural Associations said it was displeased with the trade bloc’s decision to suspend Paraguay and admit Venezuela as a full member.
- Uruguayan President José Mujica said that Uruguay was currently enjoying a period of “exceptionality” in terms of the global economic crisis, but warned that this was likely to be temporary.
Image: chavezcandanga @ Flickr.