Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ailing Fidel Castro changes tack, attacks Obama

Ailing Fidel Castro changes tack, attacks Obama - Feature
Posted : Sat, 31 Jan 2009 03:16:29 GMT
Author : DPA
Category : World
World News | Home

Havana - In a surprising reversal, ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro has
attacked US President Barack Obama's foreign policy initiatives as
"abusive," and compared them to those of George W Bush. In two articles
last week, Fidel had stressed the "sincerity" and "honesty" of the new
White House resident.

But in his most recent piece published by Cuban media Friday, Fidel -
who has not been seen in public since July 2006 - used harsh language
previously reserved only for Bush.

US support for Israel shows "the abusive character of empire," Castro
said. "The United States will never distance itself from Israel ... it
is the mode of sharing in the genocide of Palestinians, into which our
friend Obama has fallen."

Cuban President Raul Castro, to whom Fidel formally transferred power
almost a year ago, has repeatedly said he is willing to talk to Obama at
some "neutral place" and under certain conditions.

Foreign observers had also noticed a "softer" rhetoric in Havana
following Obama's historic victory last November. Official comments,
such as those made earlier this week by Foreign Minister Felipe Perez
Roque, refrained from using aggressive terms like "imperialism" to refer
to Washington.

But Fidel claimed the new US president is repeating the policies of
Bush, with whom Havana ruled out any chance for dialogue.

Obama is merely offering more of the same "sweeteners" to Russia, China,
Europe, Latin America and the rest of the world, including Cuba, Castro

The Cuban leader even saw negativity in Obama's decision to close the
controversial military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - a move that
analysts viewed as a starting point for a possible rapprochement between
the two countries.

Castro called Obama's comments about chances for the territory to be
returned to Cuba as further evidence of the "abusive character" of US
foreign policy.

Castro considers the American base at Guantanamo illegal. Under an
agreement last revised in 1934, the lease can only be ended if both
sides agree. The base supports US naval operations in the Western
hemisphere and the war on drugs throughout Latin America.

The new US administration has indicated that it will not return
Guantanamo without concessions. Castro wants Obama to give the base back
to Cuba without conditions.

A more conciliatory Perez Roque had called the move to close the prison
at Guantanamo "positive" but "insufficient."

Cuban dissident Oscar Espinosa said Fidel's recent comments were hardly

"They prove that there is a sector that does not at all want an
improvement in relations with the United States," he told Deutsche

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