Washington – The United States still does not see the kind of "significant changes" in Cuba that would make it possible for Washington to normalize ties with the Communist government in Havana, President Barack Obama said.
"I would welcome real change from the Cuban government," he said during an interview with Univision, the largest U.S. Spanish-language television network.
"For us to have the kind of normal relations we have with other countries, we've got to see significant changes from the Cuban government and we just have not seen that yet," Obama said.
President Raul Castro, who succeeded ailing older brother Fidel, has taken steps aimed at re-energizing Cuba's weak economy while releasing scores of political prisoners as part of a dialogue with the Catholic Church.
Among the aspects where no changes are to be seen in Havana's policies, Obama mentioned political prisoners and the economic system.
"The bottom line is political prisoners are still there who should have been released a long time ago, who never should have been arrested in the first place; political dissent is still not tolerated. The economic system there is still far too constrained," he said.
Finally, he spoke of the more than half a century that the Castro brothers have been in power.
"If you think about it, (Fidel) Castro came into power before I was born - he's still there and he basically has the same system when the rest of the world has recognized that the system doesn't work," Obama said.
Since taking office in the White House, Obama has eased some of the restrictions on academic, cultural and religious travel to Cuba imposed by Washington's 49-year-old economic embargo on the island. The president has also effectively eliminated restrictions on travel to Cuba by Cuban-Americans with relatives on the island.