Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fidel Castro celebrates 89th birthday by calling on US to pay embargo damages

Brief newspaper column says US owes Cuba ‘numerous millions of dollars’ and comes a day before John Kerry will raise flag over American embassy in Havana


Former Cuban president Fidel Castro attends the opening of the art studio Kcho estudio Romerillo, Laboratory for arts in Havana in 2014. Photograph: Cuba Debate/EPA

Associated Press in Havana

Thursday 13 August 2015 12.22 EDTLast modified on Thursday 13 August 201515.53 EDT

Fidel Castro has marked his 89th birthday with a newspaper column repeating assertions that the US owes socialist Cuba “numerous millions of dollars” for damages caused by its decades-long embargo.

The brief essay came a day before an historic moment in US-Cuba relations: US secretary of state John Kerry is to raise the Stars and Stripes over a restored American embassy in Havana, though the economic embargo legally remains in effect.

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The rapprochement after 54 years of formal diplomatic estrangement was engineered by Fidel’s brother Raúl, who took over Cuba’s presidency after the elder Castro suffered a health crisis in 2006.

Fidel Castro did not directly mention the restored relations, though he made several critical references to the US.

He said Washington owes Cuba indemnifications “that rise to numerous millions of dollars” for damage caused by the embargo.

He also repeated his criticism of the US decision to stop swapping dollars for gold in 1971, a stand shared with some conservative economists. Castro has said in the past that such a move left the dollar alone as the world’s measure of value for currencies.

Castro came to power in 1959 following a revolution. Relations with the United States were broken in 1961 as Castro led Cuba rapidly into a socialist model allied with the Soviet Union


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