Andrea Mitchell Gently Asks Castro About ‘Different Interpretation’ of Human Rights

In a question to Cuban dictator Raul Castro during a joint press conference with President Obama on Monday, NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell gently pressed the Communist leader on human rights abuses: “President Castro, for many of us, it's remarkable to hear you speak about all of these subjects. Could you tell us what you see in the future?... What is the future of our two countries given the different definitions and the different interpretations of profound issues like democracy and human rights?”

Immediately beforehand, she put more direct question to Obama on the same subject:

And you said the conversations about human rights were frank and candid. And that you want to move forward. But even as you were arriving, there were dramatic arrests of peaceful protests, The Ladies in White. What signal does that send? Can you have civilized co-existence at the same time you have such profound disagreements about the very definitions of what human rights means, as President Castro expressed today?

Mitchell began by hoping that the President had solidified changes in Cuba policy: “Do you feel after your meetings today that you have made enough progress to even accelerate the pace, and that the Cuban government is able to move quickly enough so that the changes that you have made through these technical adjustments to the embargo will be permanent, cannot be reversed by the next president?”

She wondered “what advice” Obama may have given to Castro about the trade embargo being lifted in the future and worried that the “continuous issue” was “blocking progress” between the U.S. and Cuba.

Here is a transcript of Mitchell’s questions to both leaders during the March 21 presser:

2:46 PM ET

(...)

ANDREA MITCHELL: Thank you, Mr. President. Do you feel after your meetings today that you have made enough progress to even accelerate the pace, and that the Cuban government is able to move quickly enough so that the changes that you have made through these technical adjustments to the embargo will be permanent, cannot be reversed by the next president? And what advice have you given to President Castro about the ability of having the blockades, the embargo lifted? Because he has said again today this is continuous issue, which is blocking progress, from their standpoint.

And you said the conversations about human rights were frank and candid. And that you want to move forward. But even as you were arriving, there were dramatic arrests of peaceful protests, The Ladies in White. What signal does that send? Can you have civilized co-existence at the same time you have such profound disagreements about the very definitions of what human rights means, as President Castro expressed today?

And for President Castro, for many of us, it's remarkable to hear you speak about all of these subjects. Could you tell us what you see in the future? President Obama has nine months remaining. You have said you would be stepping down in 2018. What is the future of our two countries given the different definitions and the different interpretations of profound issues like democracy and human rights? Thank you.

(...)

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