Monday, June 25, 2007

Castro Says U.S. Must Change Its Cuba Policy `Unilaterally'

Bloomberg

By Theresa Bradley

June 25 (Bloomberg) -- Cuban President Fidel Castro said U.S. lawmakers must change their nation's policy toward the island ``unilaterally,'' without concessions from his government.

``Changes in U.S. government policy with relation to Cuba have to be unilateral, because the blockade and economic war against Cuba by that country's leaders are unilateral,'' Castro wrote in an editorial published today by the Havana daily Granma.

Castro rejected past terms set by the U.S. for lifting its 45-year economic embargo, including the right to peaceful protest, political opposition and democratic elections on the island.

``It's clear they don't have the slightest clue about the type of people that have formed in these 40 years of Revolution,'' Castro wrote, citing a speech he made in 2000.

The editorial is the latest in a series of 21 essays Castro has published in Granma, his main avenue of communication since undergoing intestinal surgery last July. He turned temporary governing authority over to his brother Raul Castro at the time, and has not appeared in public since.

Today's essay follows a June 21 vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to increase funding for a State Department ``Cuba Democracy'' fund fivefold to $45.7 million next year. House and Senate Democrats introduced a proposal to lift travel and some farm trade restrictions against the island that same day.

`Attempts on My Life'

Castro reiterated allegations that U.S. President George W. Bush plotted his assassination while still a candidate for the presidency in 2000, in a bid to win favor with Cuban-Americans in the swing-state of Florida who oppose his regime.

Castro praised Bush predecessors Gerald Ford, for banning government-backed assassinations; Jimmy Carter, for opening a Cuban Interests Office in Washington; and Bill Clinton for returning 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez to Cuba in 2000.

``It's really a mystery to say who's responsible for the hundreds of attempts on my life,'' Castro wrote. ``For every one of the chiefs of revolution that you might eliminate through that road, there are in Cuba millions of men and women capable of taking his post.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Theresa Bradley in Caracas at tbradley7@bloomberg.net .

Last Updated: June 25, 2007 14:37 EDT

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