Fidel Castro Tells Obama He Can Keep His 'Presents'

Ex-Cuban leader writes scathing letter that attacks US, Spaniards—even Obama's age
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2016 9:34 AM CDT
Fidel Castro Tells Obama He Can Keep His 'Presents'
Pope Francis meets Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba, on Sept. 20, 2015.   (AP Photo/Alex Castro)

No one expected President Obama to meet with Fidel Castro during his historic visit to Cuba last week. But while Obama was chatting up and taking in a baseball game with brother Raul Castro, the 89-year-old former revolutionary was penning what the AP calls a "long, bristling letter." "We don't need the empire to give us any presents," Fidel writes in the 1,500-word missive Monday in El Granma, the newspaper of Cuba's Communist Party, per Politico. In his "El Hermano Obama" ("Brother Obama") essay, Castro launches into a Cuban history primer, including Spanish colonialism, then addresses its interactions with the US, such as the doomed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, US trade embargo against Cuba, and Obama's relative youth—all in what the AP calls reminiscent of the lengthy, "all-encompassing" speeches Castro used to deliver.

Going over Obama's speech with a fine-toothed comb, Castro rails against his rival's supposed insults and rolls his eyes at Obama's statement that "it is time, now, for us to leave the past behind." "I imagine that any one of us ran the risk of having a heart attack on hearing these words from the President of the United States," Castro writes. Moving onto the Bay of Pigs, he notes, "Nothing can justify this premeditated attack that cost our country hundreds of killed and wounded." And as for Obama speaking at all about Cuba and its people, Castro offers this dig: "Native populations do not exist at all in the minds of Obama. Nor does he say that racial discrimination was swept away by the Revolution; that retirement and salary of all Cubans were enacted by this before Mr. Barack Obama was 10 years old." He gives a final piece of advice to Obama: "My modest suggestion is to reflect and do not try now to develop theories about Cuban politics." (More Fidel Castro stories.)

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