Skip to comments.Cubans swarm Spanish and Italian embassies to protest EU - "Fidel is pathetic."
Posted on 06/12/2003 1:27:22 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
HAVANA (AFP) - President Fidel Castro, in an olive uniform and carrying the Cuban flag, led hundreds of thousands of marchers past Spain's embassy to protest European reprisals for Cuba's crackdown on dissidents.
Castro marched through the narrow streets of Old Havana, while his brother Raul, head of the armed forces, marched through a residential neighborhood, past the Italian embassy. Followers carried placards equating Italy's fascist past to Europe's decision to punish Cuba.
The government said it expected the crowds to swell to more than a million, as the labor ministry gave workers the day off.
Posters depicted Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar as a "puppet" and a "little fuhrer."
Italian Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi became "Benito Berlusconi," in reference to Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini.
Seventy-five dissidents were jailed in April for up to 28 years, and three men who had tried to hijack a commuter ferry to Florida were summarily executed, ending a moratorium on the death penalty.
The EU decided to review its Cuba policy and restrict political and cultural contact with the communist island and released a statement on June 5.
"It must have been written in a drunken state, if not with alcohol, in a state of Eurocentric drunkenness," Castro said late Wednesday.
He branded Aznar and Berlusconi "fascists" and "bandits" as the brains behind the EU's Cuba policy, which he called "useless ... lacking seriousness ... gross and insolent."
"What bothers us most in all this, is that those who signed on to this statement are cooperating with the US government's Nazi-fascist policy," Castro said, adding that he would hold the EU leaders responsible for any possible US military attack on Cuba.
Castro also ordered three statues be placed outside Spain's embassy: of Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca who was executed under dictator Francisco Franco; of Spanish poet Antonio Machado who was killed in exile; and of Pablo de la Torrente Brau, a Cuban journalist killed fighting with the international brigades against the Fascists.
EU ambassadors in Havana have made a point of inviting Cuban dissidents to their diplomatic receptions. Castro warned that no Cuban official would attend such gatherings.
In addition, EU ambassadors "would not be invited to official events in Cuba."
Portugal celebrated its national festival with two receptions -- one for official Cubans and another for members of civil society, including dissidents.
Cuban opposition leader Elizardo Sanchez is unfazed by the austere warnings.
"We will attend any diplomatic reception to which we are invited, because in doing so we don't violate any law," said Sanchez, who spent eight years in a Cuban prison for his militant opposition to Castro.
Felipe Gonzalez, Spain's Socialist prime minister from 1982-1996, told The Miami Herald, "Fidel is pathetic."
Gonzalez was the conservative Aznar's predecessor and had a generally warm relationship with Castro. But he is among those in Europe whose patience with Castro clearly has waned.
"Now he is like Franco when he was dying," Gonzalez said in the interview published Thursday.
Vladimiro Roca -- recently released from five years in prison and the spokesman for an opposition group called "All United" -- said the EU measures "will put matters in perspective for Cuba, where the government justifies its actions in the name of a bilateral conflict with the United States." Tensions between Washington and Havana have soared since Cuba's recent jailing of the 75 political activists and executions.
In May US officials expelled 14 Cuban diplomats on espionage charges and is reportedly considering other measures. Washington has had a full sanctions regime imposed on Cuba, the only one-party communist country in the Americas, for more than four decades.***
It looks like a lot of people went fishing.
Thousands of Cubans march past the Spanish embassy in Havana, June 12, 2003. Protest marches were organized towards the Spanish and Italian embassies after Cuba had told the European Union that it would not tolerate 'provocation and blackmail,' warning of more action if the European Union maintained support for Cuban dissidents. REUTERS/Claudia Daut
Interesting how socialist states become
1) Hereditary monarchies. The country has been ruled by one family for 42 years.
2) Gerontocracies, as no elections mean no new blood at the top. Fidel is almost 77. Raul just turned 72.
Damn Rather must be thrilled.
Throw these to seals a makeral.
No, but Greg Packer was at the head of the line.
Not likely. Cubans will be pulling down statues and the U.N. has been neutered.
Cubans will take their own island back and embrace democracy without much help from anyone else. Then Castro will truly look pathetic.