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." ***
While Dodd appears satisfied by lengthy responses delivered by the State Department to Capitol Hill June 4 on the Haiti matter and Cason's role, his office has insisted on seeing the Huddleston cable. Just what is in her cable is not publicly known. Some congressional staffers say Dodd believes the cable contains warnings that the Bush administration policy of intense engagement with political dissidents in Cuba would lead to a crackdown. ***