Fidel Cas­tro to US: You owe us mil­lions

The China Post - - IN­TER­NA­TIONAL - BY RIGOB­ERTO DIAZ

Fidel Cas­tro marked his 89th birth­day Thursday by in­sist­ing the United States owes Cuba “many mil­lions of dol­lars” be­cause of the half- cen­tury- old Amer­i­can trade em­bargo.

Cas­tro spoke out in an es­say pub­lished in lo­cal me­dia a day be­fore U. S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry makes a his­toric visit to Cuba to re­open the U. S. em­bassy as part of the coun­tries’ restora­tion of diplo­matic re­la­tions.

The trade em­bargo that the United States slapped on com­mu­nist Cuba in 1962, three years af­ter Cas­tro seized power by oust­ing a U. S.- backed regime, re­mains in ef­fect de­spite the thaw.

U. S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama wants Congress to lift it, although U. S. of­fi­cials say this will take time and is not an au­to­matic part of the restora­tion of ties, as it re­quires con­gres­sional ac­tion.

Many Republicans, who con- trol both cham­bers of the leg­is­la­ture, op­pose the idea, in­sist­ing Cuba has to im­prove its hu­man rights record and make demo­cratic re­forms.

Cas­tro wrote: “Cuba

other

is owed com­pen­sa­tion equiv­a­lent to dam­ages, which to­tal many mil­lions of dol­lars, as our coun­try has stated with ir­refutable ar­gu­ments and data in all of its speeches at the United Na­tions.”

He did not go into de­tail about pre­cisely how much money he reck­ons Wash­ing­ton owes Ha­vana. The Amer­i­cans are also claim­ing com­pen­sa­tion for U. S.owned prop­erty, such as real es­tate, that was con­fis­cated when Cas­tro took power.

Cas­tro made no men­tion ei­ther of Kerry’s visit to re­open the em­bassy, a step that comes eight months af­ter Obama and Cas­tro’s suc­ces­sor and brother Raul an­nounced plans to re­store re­la­tions. It of­fi­cially took ef­fect July 20.

Cas­tro ceded power to his brother Raul in 2006, step­ping down be­cause of poor health.

Over the years, Fidel Cas­tro has been a fre­quent con­trib­u­tor of es­says to the com­mu­nist party news­pa­per Granma and other me­dia. Thursday’s ar­ti­cle was his first since May 8.

“Writ­ing is a way to be use­ful, if you keep in mind that we poor hu­mans must be more and bet­ter ed­u­cated in the face of the in­cred­i­ble ig­no­rance that sur­rounds us all, ex­cept for re­searchers who use sci­ence to seek a sat­is­fac­tory an­swer,” Cas­tro wrote.

Cas­tro’s 89th birth­day is be­ing cel­e­brated with a wide ar­ray of events.

In town to take part is Bo­livia’s pop­ulist Pres­i­dent Evo Mo­rales, who of­ten refers to Cas­tro as his “wise grand­fa­ther.”

Cas­tro’s other re­gional ally, Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro, was also present for the oc­ca­sion, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

Venezue­lan tele­vi­sion net­work Telesur pub­lished three pho­tos of the Cuban leader in a track­suit and cap sit­ting with Maduro and Mo­rales in a small van.

Some 200 peo­ple, ac­com­pa­nied by beat­ing drums, sang “Happy Birth­day” to Cas­tro early Thursday at a spe­cial con­cert ded­i­cated to the for­mer leader.

AP

A black and white im­age of Fidel Cas­tro is propped up against a wall in an apart­ment build­ing un­der­go­ing ren­o­va­tions in Old Ha­vana, Cuba, Thursday, Aug. 13.

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