Castro slams Obama for not apologizing to Japan
Dan Atkinson Sunday, August 14, 2016
Fidel Castro marked his 90th birthday by slamming President Obama in an
open letter to the people of Cuba for failing to apologize to Japan for
the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and mocking repeated U.S.
attempts to assassinate him — a move one human rights expert called a
"slap in the face" as U.S. officials work to normalize relations with
the island nation.
"Castro is making a fool of us at the expense of his own people," said
Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the
"At 90 years old, he and his brother are reminding America that we gave
something for nothing."
Castro's letter, which was carried by state-run Cuban media yesterday to
commemorate his 90th birthday, reminisced about growing up and the 1959
revolution that put him in power before blasting Obama for failing to
apologize for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during a trip to
Japan in May.
"He lacked the words to ask for forgiveness for the killings of hundreds
of thousands of people," Castro wrote, also adding that he "almost
laughed" about prior CIA attempts to assassinate him.
Obama began normalizing relations and loosening trade and travel
restrictions with Cuba in 2014 before visiting the country in March.
JetBlue is set to offer commercial flights there at the end of August.
And though the warming relations between the two former enemies will
give a boost to the Cuban economy and government, it doesn't help
political prisoners in Cuba or pressure Castro or his brother, Raul —
who runs the country — to address lingering human rights issues,
"It's a slap in the face," she said of the letter, adding, "The Cuba
policy of the Obama administration was a profound embarrassment. We had
an opportunity to leverage a new relationship to realize real freedom
and human rights protection for the Cuban people and we didn't do it."
But local experts said Castro's letter amounted to empty bluster from a
former leader who no longer has the support of the majority of Cuban
"I think Fidel Castro has proven he's a 90-year-old communist who has
few regrets for who he is and what he's done. He wants to go out as an
enemy to the United States," said Westy Egmont, director of the
Immigrant Integration Lab at the Boston College School of Social Work.
"He's getting a last gasp to say what he wants to say before he's
silenced by the ravages of time."
Egmont visited Cuba earlier this year and said outside of political
figures, most Cubans are curious about the United States and looking to
prosper as the countries create closer
Boston University professor of international relations William Keylor
agreed, saying that while Castro was still celebrated, he was viewed as
a historical figure and his opposition to the United States is not shared.
"People in Cuba really are in support of opening up to the U.S. They
really celebrate Obama," Keylor said. "The new generation really is not
interested in reviving all those old grievances."
Source: Castro slams Obama for not apologizing to Japan | Boston Herald