23rd Feb 2020

Castro attacks European leaders and rejects EU aid

Cuban President Fidel Castro has marked the 50th anniversary of the guerrilla battle that launched the Cuban revolution by delivering a withering attack on the EU and individual leaders in Europe.

Addressing a rally of 10,000 supporters in Santiago on Saturday, Mr Castro rejected EU aid to the island and suggested that the EU was a pawn of the United States, describing it as "the superpower's Trojan horse".

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Moreover, he criticised what he called Europe's "arrogant and calculating attitude, in hope of reconciliation with the masters of the world" - referring again to the US.

Diplomatic spat

The background to this tirade is an ongoing diplomatic spat between the EU and Cuba. The EU has been critical of Cuba's human rights record this year, especially after the execution in April of three Cuban men who attempted to hijack a ferry. Cuba has also sentenced 75 political dissidents to long prison sentences.

In return, the EU has been rethinking its Cuba policy, limiting bilateral visits and freezing Cuba's request to join an aid agreement known as the Cotonou Agreement.

Individual attacks

Last month, Castro described Italian and EU President Silvio Berlusconi as a "fascist" and a "clown" and likened Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar to Adolf Hitler.

In this speech, he was similarly scathing about individual European leaders and nations, saying that Spain's education system was "an embarrassment for Europe" and equivalent to that of a banana republic.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair was also attacked over his role in the death of scientist David Kelly, the biological weapons expert who committed suicide 10 days ago.

But Mr Castro reserved perhaps his heaviest fire for Eastern European countries, who, as former Communist states, are "full of hatred for Cuba".

He said that they could not forgive Cuba "for having demonstrated that socialism is capable of achieving a society a thousand times more just and humane than the rotten [capitalist] system they were adopting".

The European Commission released a statement stressing its "regret" over Mr Castro's declarations but also "its commitment to continue supporting the Cuban people".

The Commission pointed out that, since 1993, some €145m of aid has gone to Cuba.

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