Skip to comments.Castro Rejects EU Aid, Defends Revolution
Posted on 07/27/2003 12:29:48 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
Former Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega (R), Cuban boy Elian Gonzales and Reverend Lucius Walker of the U.S. sit together during a political rally at the former Moncada military barracks in Santiago de Cuba, July 26, 2003. Today is the 50th anniversary of the assault on the military compound led by Fidel Castro that launched the revolution. REUTERS/Claudia Daut
SANTIAGO, Cuba (Reuters) - Cuban President Fidel Castro responded on Saturday to European Union criticism of human rights abuses in Cuba by rejecting EU aid and closing the door on political contacts.
"Cuba does not need the aid of the European Union to survive," Castro said in a speech to 10,000 supporters marking the 50th anniversary of the assault he led on the Santiago army garrison that launched his leftist revolution.
In June the EU limited high-level bilateral government visits and reduced the profile of member states' participation in cultural events in Cuba. The European Commission also froze Havana's request to join the aid accord known as the Cotonou Agreement due to a crackdown on dissent in March.
"The government of Cuba, out of a basic sense of dignity, relinquishes any aid or remnant of humanitarian aid that may be offered by the European Commission and the governments of the European Union," Castro said.
He said Cuba would only accept aid from regional or local governments, NGOs and solidarity movements in Europe "which do not impose political conditions on Cuba."
The EU annoyed Castro's government by deciding in June to start inviting Cuban dissidents to its national day embassy receptions, which Cuban officials stopped attending.
The diplomatic freeze followed the jailing of 75 dissidents and the execution in April of three Cubans who hijacked a ferry in an attempt to reach the United States.
Castro accused European nations of ganging up on Cuba with the United States, which has maintained sanctions against the Caribbean island for four decades.
Last month, Castro led huge marches to the Havana embassies of Spain and Italy and attacked Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, likening Aznar to Adolf Hitler and calling Berlusconi a "clown" and a "fascist."
CASTRO ATTACKS EUROPE
In his speech on Saturday, he attacked European countries for "plundering" their colonies and leaving billions of people in poverty and underdevelopment, and said they should compensate African countries for the "the damage wreaked throughout centuries by slavery and colonialism."
"Neither Europe nor the United States will have the last word on the future of humanity," he said to a crowd of supporters wearing red T-shirts and waving Cuban flags.
The EU is Cuba's largest trading and investment partner and the source of most of its tourism, the island's most important source of hard currency.
The rally commemorated the 1953 attack on the Moncada barracks in Santiago that gave birth to one of the most lasting socialist revolutions of the 20th century after his guerrilla movement overthrew the corrupt dictatorship of U.S-backed Fulgencio Batista in 1959.
Castro recalled the pitiful social conditions under Batista and said Cuba's socialist society had achieved educational and health standards higher than some developed nations.
Persistent social hardship in Cuba since the loss of Soviet support has brought discontent and the emergence last year of a nationwide dissident movement calling for democratic reforms to the island's one-party communist state.
Despite opening up to tourism and foreign investment, Cuba's economy never fully recovered from the collapse of Soviet communism. Most Cubans earn wages that average $10 to $15 a month and live in dilapidated housing.
For Castro's opponents, the anniversary of the Moncada assault was no occasion to celebrate.
"It's another year of frustrations. There is no future and the government offers none," said dissident Vladimiro Roca, the son of a founding father of the ruling Communist Party.
The left has been repeating this lie for so long, that they have started to believe it. The US refused to back Battista. They treated Castro like a hero. Their reward was for him to come to NYC and announce to the world that he was and had always been a communist. Oops.
And after enjoying them, they can go back to France and cluck their tongues about life under Batista and how it forced impoverished women into prostitution.
I don't want him to die, TS. I want him to live just long enough for us to liberate Cuba, capture him alive and parade him through Miami's "Little Havana" in a cage.
Then he can die.
With Luis Gonzalez posting pictures of it here.