- Title: CUBA: Thousands of Cubans take to streets in anti-U.S. demonstration
- Date: 25th January 2006
- Summary: OFFICIALS FROM THE US MISSION WATCHING THE MARCH FROM THEIR GARDEN; WOMAN WATCHING THE MARCH FROM THE BALCONY OF HER APARTMENT (3 SHOTS)
- Embargoed: 9th February 2006 12:00
- Location: Cuba
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA1KXI7ATR0OXRDHC88B81RIWTK
- Story Text: Cuban President Fidel Castro sent hundreds of thousands of Cuban marchers past the U.S. mission in Havana on Tuesday (January 24, 2006) to protest a five-foot-high (1.5- meter) ticker that streams news and human rights messages across its windows.
Castro vowed to the Bush administration that the people of Cuba would respond to the insult with all their moral force.
"The government of President Bush knows very well that no government in the world can accept such a perverse insult to its dignity and sovereignty. The conduct and the actions of the empire may be absolutely peaceful, but we will hit back at the insult with all the force of morality, and we will be ready to respond with all the weapons and to spill up to the last drop of blood to reject any warlike aggression from the mutinous and brutal empire that is threatening us," he said.
As he climbed the podium to send off the march, the U.S. ticker flashed "Conservatives win elections in Canada" and other headlines in bright red letters behind him and in full view of the marchers.
The headlines were followed by quotes from Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Lech Walesa, founder of the Solidarity movement that toppled Poland's communist government and led to the collapse of Soviet influence in Eastern Europe.
The communist leader, who turns 80 in August, was dressed in his trademark military fatigues, but did not join the march past the U.S. mission on Havana's Malecon seafront, as he has in previous protests.
The two governments, bitter enemies since Castro came to power in a 1959 revolution, do not have formal diplomatic relations and are represented by interests offices opened in each other's capital during the Carter administration. Washington has enforced sanctions against Communist-run Cuba since 1962.
For Cubans marching in protest on Tuesday, the march was also denouncing Bush's government for harbouring anti-Castro extremists in the United States and wanting to free Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban-born former CIA operative who has been held by the United States since May for illegally entering the country.
Isabelina Vera said she was doing it for her country and her leader.
"For the revolution. For my Cuba. For Fidel. Because I am Cuban and I carry it within me. Bush, fascist, condemn the terrorist!" she shouted.
Posada is wanted by Cuba and Venezuela for the blowing up of a Cuban commercial airliner off Barbados in 1976 that killed all 73 people aboard. Cuba also blames him for a wave of blasts in Havana hotels and night spots in 1997. U.S. authorities have rejected a Venezuelan extradition request for Posada, who escaped from a Caracas jail in 1985 and may release him on bail on Tuesday (January 24).
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