Fidel Castro calls out Obama in  a rare public appearance

Fidel Castro calls out Obama in a rare public appearance

Amidst celebrations for the revolutionist’s 90th birthday, Fidel Castro made a surprise entrance at his birthday gala, the first time he has been seen in public since April. The retired prime minister and president who restructured Cuba into a one-party communist state did not speak at the gala, however he did write a lengthy letter that was published in state media. 

Castro used the opportunity to thank his fellow Cubans for their jubilation, and to reprimand United States President, Barack Obama.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude for the shows of respect, greetings and praise that I’ve received in recent days, which give me strength to reciprocate with ideas that I will send to party militants and relevant organisations,” he wrote.

Havana’s seafront Malecon boulevard was bustling with thousands of Cubans all throughout the night Friday August 12th, all partying to commemorate the politician who handed over power to his younger brother Raul in 2008 due to ill health.

Many Cubans have begun to question whether Castro has become out of touch with reality, with his column, titled “The Birthday”, criticising Obama for not apologising to the people of Japan during his trip in May to Hiroshima, the site of the world’s first atomic bomb detonation.

"He lacked the words to ask for forgiveness for the killings of hundreds of thousands of people," Castro said.

President Obama delivered the speech in question as the first American president to visit Hiroshima on the anniversary of the bombing. He used the occasion to condemn people who use religion as a “license to kill,” without actually addressing any particular religion or incorporating the violence of World War II to the message.

Castro has a long history of committing human rights violations, including the ordered killings of LGBT and Christian Cubans within prisoner of war camps.

The timing of Fidel Castro’s comments is questionable, with Cuba recently needing to depend more and more on the U.S. as Venezuela, Cuba’s closest ally, experiences significant economic free-fall, halting the flow of subsidised oil into Cuba. On top of this, with commercial flights to and from the United States resuming on August 31st, Cuba will need to retain its formidable relationship with its former enemy in order to ensure a positive surge in tourism to the island nation.

This article first appeared in Issue 20, 2016.
Posted 10:38am Sunday 21st August 2016 by Liam Brown.