Cuba

Cuba celebrates Fidel Castro’s birthday with what the late leader most enjoyed

A painting inspired by a 1994 photo taken by Cuban photojournalist Ismael Francisco showing Cuba's Fidel Castro, right, welcoming Venezuela's Hugo Chávez before he became president years later, at the Havana airport, covers a wall separating recreation spaces at a park in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017.
A painting inspired by a 1994 photo taken by Cuban photojournalist Ismael Francisco showing Cuba's Fidel Castro, right, welcoming Venezuela's Hugo Chávez before he became president years later, at the Havana airport, covers a wall separating recreation spaces at a park in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. AP

Cuba celebrated what would have been the 91st birthday of late leader Fidel Castro with a museum dedicated to denouncing “aggressions” lobbed by the United States during the more than six decades of rule by the Castro brothers.

“This is the work of our country facing the aggressions of the empire. Here is, on one hand, American evil, and on the other, the heroism and triumph of an entire people,” Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel said Sunday in Havana during the official opening of the Memorial of Denunciation, which is housed in the former museum dedicated to the Ministry of the Interior.

“It is sometimes inexplicable that a country as large as the United States has devoted so many resources to trying to crush a revolutionary process that, after all, what it has always defended is our sovereignty,” added Díaz-Canel, who does not usually comment on U.S.-Cuba relations.

According to Granma, the official Communist Party newspaper, the museum “reveals the various aspects of the Yankee aggressions against Cuba.” Exhibit rooms have titles such as: The CIA and Other Intelligence Services, The Media War, State Terrorism, Political Manipulation of the Migratory Issue, Economic Warfare and Our Strength is the Strength of the People.

Relations between Washington and Havana are currently strained following reports that U.S. diplomats in Cuba have fallen ill due to sonic weapon or defective listening devices that may have caused hearing loss. Cuba immediately denied any involvement in the allegations, but the United States expelled two Cuban diplomats as retaliation. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insisted last week that the U.S. holds Cuban authorities responsible for finding out “who is carrying out these health attacks” on the diplomats.

Castro died last November and his death was seen as a development that could facilitate political and economic change. But after President Donald Trump's announcement of a hardening of policy toward the island — the scale of which remains unknown until the administration issues new regulations — the Cuban government has become more vocal in its support for the Nicolás Maduro government in Venezuela and has reigned in the island’s private sector.

Cuba relies heavily on Venezuelan subsidies to prop up its state-controlled economy while a large segment of the private sector relies on help from contacts in the U.S.

Díaz-Canel, who has emerged as the possible successor to Raúl Castro in 2018 — when the current leader said he would retire from his government post as president — repeated Havana allegations of during the museum opening on Sunday of the U.S. carrying out a “war” against Venezuela that he characterized as “economic, dirty, unconventional and in which violence prevails.”

He also told the local press that he was filled with “revolutionary” emotion.

“It is Fidel's birthday,” he said. “Although he is not physically present for the first time, Cubans celebrate the date in a very austere way.”

Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter: @ngameztorres

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