Cuban president Miguel Diaz -Canel has accused US president Donald Trump's administration of causing relations between the two countries to reach their worst levels in decades, and has called on Cubans to strengthen both their defense and the economy, Reuters has reported.
In a speech at the end of the parliament session on Saturday, April 13th, Diaz- Canel said the U S was carrying out a campaign of "stifling financial repression that makes importing commodities and basic resources very difficult."
The recession of the Cuban economy in recent years, coupled with the outbreak of the financial collapse of their ally Venezuela, has led to a reduction in government entities using fuel and energy, and shortages of basic commodities such as bread, chicken and eggs.
The strengthening of Washington's sanctions during the Trump era further has made it difficult for Cuba, which is in a straitened financial state, to obtain loans from international financial institutions.
On Saturday, April 13th, Cuban economy minister Alejandro Gil Fernandez also called on the government to step up austerity measures, and seek to identify import alternatives, as foreign exchange earnings plummet and with the difficulty of attracting investment.
Cuba relies on imports directly or indirectly for most of its production and consumption, including fuel and food, and buys what it needs in hard currency from exports and loans.
The Trump administration says Cuba is responsible for Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro remaining in power, and has imposed new sanctions on Cuba, which is already subject to a paralyzing trade embargo, a contrast to the détente established between Washington and Havana under president Barack Obama.
"The situation means that we have two priorities: to prepare for our defence and economic battle at the same time," Diaz- Canel said.