Fidel Castro pens letter critiquing Obama visit

WASHINGTON, March 28 (KUNA) — The man who led Cuba’s revolution in 1959 and ran the country for half a century published a letter in state media on Monday, harshly criticizing US President Barack Obama’s historic overtures to Cubans last week. The 89-year-old Fidel Castro, who handed over power to his 84-year-old brother Raul in 2008, still maintains significant sway over the island country’s people.
“No one should pretend that the people of this noble and selfless country will renounce its glory and its rights,” Castro said. “We are capable of producing the food and material wealth that we need with work and intelligence of our people. We don’t need the empire to give us anything,” he affirmed. The former leader listed numerous abuses that he said were committed by the US against Cubans, the failed Bay of Pigs operation among them, and said Obama’s desire for normalized relations and a friendship between neighbors “risked giving one a heart attack.” The president did not acknowledge the achievements of the revolution, Castro said. “Native populations do not exist at all in the mind of Obama. Nor does he say that racial discrimination was swept away by the Revolution; that retirement and salary of all Cubans were enacted by this before Mr. Barack Obama was 10 years old,” he wrote.
“My modest suggestion is to reflect and do not try now to develop theories about Cuban politics,” he added. US State Department Spokesperson John Kirby suggested the letter was irrelevant, considering this Administration’s intent to put the past behind them.
“Mr. Castro can speak for himself and his views of both the past and the future of US-Cuban relations,” he told reporters. “It’s the policies that we had in place for the past 50-plus years [that haven’t] worked. That is why the president wants to engage; we want to have eventually normal, diplomatic relations with Cuba. We believe engagement is the best way forward,” Kirby affirmed. (end) ys.gb