Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Fidel Castro to Obama: We don't need your 'presents'

Published:Tuesday | March 29, 2016 | 3:00 AM
Fidel Castro

HAVANA (AP):

Fidel Castro responded yesterday to President Barack Obama's historic trip to Cuba with a long, bristling letter recounting the history of US aggression against Cuba, writing that "we don't need the empire to give us any presents".

The 1,500-word letter in state media, titled 'Brother Obama', was Castro's first response to the president's three-day visit last week, in which the American president said he had come to bury the two countries' history of Cold War hostility. Obama did not meet with the 89-year-old Fidel Castro on the trip, but met several times with his 84-year-old brother Raul Castro, the current Cuban president.

Obama's visit was intended to build irreversible momentum behind his opening up with Cuba and to convince the Cuban people and the Cuban government that a half-century of US attempts to overthrow the Communist government had ended, allowing Cuban to reform its economy and political system without the threat of US interference.

Don't to develop theories

Fidel Castro writes of Obama: "My modest suggestion is that he reflects and doesn't try to develop theories about Cuban politics."

Castro, who led Cuba for decades before handing power to his brother in 2008, was legendary for his hours-long, all-encompassing speeches. His letter reflects that style, presenting a sharp contrast with Obama's tightly focused speech in Havana.

In the letter, Castro then goes over crucial sections of Obama's speech line by line, engaging in an ex-post-facto dialogue with the American president with pointed critiques of perceived slights and insults, including Obama's failure to give credit to indigenous Cubans and Castro's prohibition of racial segregation after coming to power in 1959.

Quoting Obama's declaration that "it is time, now, for us to leave the past behind," the man who shaped Cuba during the second half of the 20th century writes that "I imagine that any one of us ran the risk of having a heart attack on hearing these words from the President of the United States.

"No one should pretend that the people of this noble and selfless country will renounce its glory and its rights," Fidel Castro wrote. "We are capable of producing the food and material wealth that we need with work and intelligence of our people."