HAVANA – Fidel Castro broke his silence Monday about last week’s visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, with an article saying that Cuba doesn’t need gifts from the “empire.”
“We don’t need the empire to give us any gifts. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, because it is our commitment to the peace and brotherhood of all human beings,” President Raul Castro’s older sibling said in an article entitled “Brother Obama,” published Monday in the island’s official media.
This latest “Reflection from Fidel” is the retired leader’s initial reaction to the first visit of a sitting president of the United States to Cuba since 1928, in which he analyzes Obama’s speech last Tuesday at Havana’s Gran Teatro, which was aired live on state radio and television.
“No one should pretend that the people of this noble and selfless country will renounce its glory and its rights, or the spiritual wealth it has earned with the development of education, science and culture,” Fidel Castro said.
In his speech, Obama spoke about the values of democracy and political pluralism, urged reconciliation between the two countries and made numerous mentions of the Cuban exile community in the U.S., while recalling the cultural and historic ties between his country and Cuba, despite more than 50 years of antagonism.
The 89-year-old Fidel Castro, who ruled Cuba from 1959 until he stepped down due to illness in 2006, replied that in Obama’s speech on the island, the visiting president used “the most syrupy words to say: ‘It’s high time to forget the past.’”
Weren’t those words enough to make everyone “risk a heart attack?” Castro wrote, then went on to detail moments in history Obama seemed to have forgotten. “After a merciless embargo that has lasted almost 60 years? And all those who died in mercenary attacks on Cuban ships and ports, and in an airliner full of passengers blown up in midair, mercenary invasions, multiple acts of force and violence?”
Castro recalled the Invasion of the Bay of Pigs, when in 1961 a mercenary force with heavy firepower, armored infantry and air support, “trained in the United States and accompanied by U.S. warships and aircraft carriers, made a surprise attack on our country.”
Obama’s journey to Cuba represented a major milestone in the process of normalizing relations that he and Raul Castro announced in December 2014.