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Cuba's No. 2 man lashes out at U.S.

crowd July 27, 1997
Web posted at: 4:29 p.m. EDT (2029 GMT)

HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) -- Cuban Defense Minister and Deputy President Raul Castro accused the United States of leading a continuing "dirty war" against Havana, and said Washington was too soft on what he called "anti-Cuban terrorists" operating from the United States.

Castro, the younger brother of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, leveled the accusations Saturday during ceremonies in the eastern city of Las Tunas, marking the anniversary of the start of Castro's communist revolution in 1953.

While Fidel Castro looked on, his brother charged that Washington hoped "to force us to surrender through hunger and illness ... as part of a monstrous, fascist plan."

The younger Castro reiterated Cuba's charge that the people and materiel used in two recent bombings in Havana came from the United States.

He referred to two small explosions at the Nacional and Capri hotels in which three people were slightly injured.

Havana had previously said the bombs were the work of hard-line opponents of Cuba's communist government, launching their anti-Cuban activities from Florida.

bombed hotel

The United States has rejected involvement and demanded that Havana back up its charges with evidence.

Castro said the bombings were not isolated incidents.

"We have frustrated several such actions in recent years, and we have proof that these actions are forged in the United States and that the people and the materiel come from that country and that it is there that these terrorist elements are organized and trained," he said.

He added that authorities had punished some people involved in such plans, and that others were due to be tried. However, he did not provide any details.

Speaking for a little more than an hour, Raul Castro steered away from Cuba's ailing economy, but said that the continuing 35-year-old U.S. economic embargo, as well as its tightening last year, were proof that Washington's "dirty war against Cuba continues."

Castro also blasted last month's visit to Cuba by Michael Ranneberger, coordinator of U.S. State Department Cuban affairs, charging he met with dissidents and that he "exhorted those individuals to undertake internal subversion."

Correspondent John Zarrella and Reuters contributed to this report.


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