- Title: Cuba puts on show of strength as Trump inauguration nears
- Date: 2nd January 2017
- Summary: RAMIRO VALDES, COMMANDER OF THE REVOLUTION SALUTING CUBANS MARCHING IN PARADE
- Embargoed: 17th January 2017 16:27
- Keywords: Cuba United States Fidel Castro Raul Castro Donald Trump Revolution Square Jennifer Bello Martinez
- Location: HAVANA, CUBA
- City: HAVANA, CUBA
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0085XE0NDX
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Cuba on Monday (January 2) paraded troops and hundreds of thousands of citizens through its emblematic Revolution Square in a traditional show of nationalist fighting spirit as it faces a tough political and economic year.
A replica of the Granma yacht, which brought the Castro brothers, Ernesto "Che" Guevara and others from Mexico to Cuba to start the revolution in 1959, surrounded by schoolchildren in red and white young pioneer uniforms, led off the five-yearly event.
Troops wielding automatic rifles followed, marching in lock step, then a sea of banner- and flag-waving Cubans, many bussed in and organized through their workplaces and neighbourhoods.
The head of the University Students Federation, Jennifer Bello Martinez, opened the march with a fiery speech as President Raul Castro and other leaders watched and waved from the base of a huge monument to independence hero Jose Marti.
"Cuba will not abandon a single one of its principles, nor make concessions inherent to its sovereignty and independence. It will not yield in defence of its revolutionary and anti-imperialist ideals, nor in the support of the self-determination of the people," she said.
The military parade and march normally takes place every five years on December 2 to mark armed forces day and commemorate the Granma landing but it was postponed a month due to the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro in late November.
The event, first announced last April, has taken on added significance since the November 8 U.S. election.
President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on January 20, has threatened to rip up a detente with Cuba begun by President Barack Obama two years ago unless he gets a "better deal" and has resorted to the hostile rhetoric of the past when referring to the Communist-run Caribbean island.
Cuban doctor, Georgina Cabrera, said the parade intended to show Cuba's strength to the world.
"To demonstrate to Cuba and to the world that we are and will be invincible. And to give an example to the world of what Cuba is and what Cuba has," she said.
"The death of our commander in chief means a lot. It carries a lot of significance for us. This is a way to show that he is still alive and that we are going to continue to defend the things that he and the entire centennial generation fought for," added Cuban student, Mercedes Munoz.
The threat to the gradual and still fragile warming trend could not come at a worse time for Cuba, which was plunged back into recession last year for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union a quarter century ago, as its strategic ally Venezuela floundered.
A tourism boom that brought 4 million visitors in 2016, in part sparked by detente and looser travel restrictions on Americans, was not enough to overcome dwindling oil shipments from the South American country on beneficial terms, and less cash for Cuban doctors and other professionals working overseas.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None