"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.
.. 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.***