HAVANA – Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, who turned 90 on Saturday, said in an article coinciding with that personal milestone that human beings were facing their greatest-ever existential threat and issued a call for “preserving the peace.”
“We’ve got to keep hammering away about the need for preserving the peace and insist that no power can claim the right to kill millions of human beings,” the leader of the 1959 Cuban Revolution said in the article titled “My Birthday” and published on the government Web site Cubadebate.
Castro, who handed over power on the Communist-ruled island to younger brother Raul Castro in July 2006 due to health reasons, addressed issues such as the problem of global overpopulation, nuclear weapons and the importance of education, but he also referred nostalgically to episodes in his youth.
“The human species today is facing the greatest risk in its history. Experts on these matters are the ones who can do the most for the inhabitants of this planet, whose numbers have increased from 1 billion at the end of the 1800s to 7 billion at the start of 2016. How many will our planet have in a few more years?” the former head of state asked rhetorically.
“The most brilliant scientists, who now number in the thousands, are the ones who can answer that question and many others of great importance,” he said.
A year and a half after the start of the historic diplomatic thaw between Cuba and the United States, Castro said President Barack Obama’s remarks during his visit to Japan in May were not at the level the occasion required.
“There was a lack of words of apology for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people in Hiroshima, even though he knew the effects of the (atomic) bomb (dropped by the United States on that city at the end of World War II),” Castro said.
“The attack on Nagasaki, the city the owners of life chose at random, was equally criminal,” he added.
But in a lighter tone, Castro also recalled his birth in Biran, a town in what is now the southeastern province of Holguin, and also his father, Spanish-born Angel Castro.
“How he loved to chat when he left the house in Biran! There he owned lands where sugarcane, pastureland and other agricultural crops were planted. But in the Pinares de Mayari (a high and cool plateau with pine forests) he wasn’t the owner, but a lessee, like many Spaniards, who were owners of a continent by virtue of the rights granted by a papal bull,” Castro wrote.
A bull “whose existence was unknown to all the peoples and human beings of this continent.”
Castro also recalled the geographical characteristics of that region and revealed that his father suffered greatly before his death from an intestinal hemorrhage three years before the triumph of the revolution.
In one other paragraph in his 90th birthday reflection, he lamented that a lack of education “is the greatest harm one can do to a child.”
Cuba has been celebrating Castro’s 90th birthday for the past several months with a series of events and tributes that will culminate on Saturday with a ceremony at the Karl Ma
rx Theatre in Havana.
Nicolas Maduro, the leftist president of Venezuela, Cuba’s closest ally, arrived on the island Saturday for Castro’s birthday celebrations, Cuba’s official media said.