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    Barack Obama says Cuba’s reforms not aggressive enough

    13 September 2011 Last updated at 08:58 GMT

    Barack Obama says Cuba's reforms not aggressive enough

    Recent changes in Cuba have not been "aggressive enough" to open its
    or reform its political system, US President Barack Obama has said.

    Mr Obama, speaking to Spanish-language correspondents in Washington,
    said Cuba remained a "throwback" to the 1960s.

    Cuba, under a US economic for nearly five decades, has this year
    moved towards some economic opening.

    Asked about Mexico's drugs conflict, Mr Obama said President Felipe
    Calderon was right to take on the cartels.

    President Obama said the Cuban authorities had indicated they wanted to
    make changes to allow businesses to operate more freely.
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    I don't think Mexican people want to live in a society where drug
    kingpins are considered to be some of the more powerful individuals in

    President Barack Obama

    But, he said, there was no evidence that they had been sufficiently
    aggressive in doing this.

    "And they certainly have not been aggressive enough when it comes to
    liberating political prisoners and giving people the opportunity to
    speak their minds", Mr Obama said.

    Cuban President Raul has been introducing some changes including
    allowing Cubans to work for themselves.

    The Cuban government this year also freed the last of 75 dissidents
    jailed during a crackdown on dissent in 2003.

    But Mr Obama put the situation in Cuba in the wider international context.

    "You are seeing enormous changes taking place in the Middle East just in
    the span of six months, you are seeing there are almost no authoritarian
    communist countries left in the world, and here you have this small
    island that is a throwback to the 60s."
    Mexico's challenge

    President Obama has moved to ease restrictions on Cuban-Americans
    travelling to the island but a gradual thaw in ties has been disrupted
    by the imprisonment of a US contractor.
    Troops stand next to confiscated communication equipment at a navy base
    in Veracruz on 8 September 2011. Mexican authorities regularly display
    equipment seized from traffickers

    The US has repeatedly demanded the release of , who is serving
    a 15-year jail sentence for bringing satellite equipment into Cuba.

    For its part, regularly calls for five Cubans jailed for spying
    in Florida to be released.

    In the interview, President Obama rejected the argument that Mexico
    should try to find some kind of accommodation with drug gangs as a way
    of ending the bloodshed.

    "I don't think Mexican people want to live in a society where drug
    kingpins are considered to be some of the more powerful individuals in
    society," Mr Obama said.

    Peace could not be achieved by negotiating with people without scruples
    or respect for human life, Mr Obama said.

    In his view, President Calderon had taken a courageous decision to
    tackle the cartels.

    "I believe that, as difficult as this time is, ultimately Mexico will be
    stronger if it does not give in," Mr Obama said.

    Some 40,000 people have died in drug-related since Mr Calderon
    began deploying troops against the drug gangs in late 2006.