Castro castigates US for ‘return to confrontation’ with Cuba
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Castro castigates US for ‘return to confrontation’ with Cuba

“Once again, the North American government is taking on the path of confrontation with Cuba,” Castro said during an address marking the 60th anniversary of Cuba’s revolution in the southeastern city of Santiago de Cuba on Tuesday. Raul’s late brother and leader of the revolution Fidel Castro proclaimed victory in the city against a US-backed dictator in 1959. The remains of Fidel and another revolutionary figure are buried in a cemetery there. “Increasingly, high-ranking officials of this [US] administration are... trying to blame Cuba for all the region’s ills,” Castro said, insisting that regional woes rather stemmed from “ruthless neoliberal policies.” The speech by Castro, who quit as president last April but remains the chief of Communist Party until 2021, was part of a formal ceremony in the cemetery where the ashes of Fidel Castro and those of independence hero Jose Marti are buried. The development came after Trump’s hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton declared in November 2018 that Washington would adopt a tougher approach against Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, calling them a “troika of tyranny.” The three Latin American governments are socialist and face US opposition and pressure. The former administration of US president Barack Obama had normalized relations with Cuba. The Trump White House has partially rolled back ties. The 87-year old Raul Castro further said that Cuba had proven throughout the six decades after its revolution that it could not be intimidated by foreign threats. Instead, he stressed, it remained open to a peaceful and respectful coexistence. He said the country’s real battle in the new year was an economic one, reiterating remarks made in late December at the national assembly by his successor, President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who announced rising austerity for the fourth year running in 2019 in the face of a cash crunch. “We need first of all to reduce all non-necessary expenses and to save more,” Castro emphasized. A series of external shocks such as a declining aid from economically-troubled Venezuela and devastation wrought by hurricanes have affected Cuban growth, which remains sluggish at best. The events marking the anniversary of Cuba’s revolution coincided with the inauguration of Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, a development that indicates a move to the right in a region that has long struggled against US military influence and economic dominance. Castro, however, underlined that the Cuban revolution is on a secure footing thanks to the transition to a competent younger generation of leaders such as the 58-year old Diaz-Canel. “It is opportune to express the fact that the Cuban Communist Party decidedly backs the words and actions of Diaz-Canel since he took office,” he added. “The revolution has not aged, it remains young.” Raul and Fidel Castro led popular Cuban militia forces in 1959 to topple a US-backed dictator and establish a socialist government on the doorstep of the United States, setting the scene for decades of Cold War hostility.

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