Stunned by a devastating government drug scandal at home and admittedly worried about democratic ferment in the Communist world, Cuban leader Fidel Castro on Wednesday excoriated President Bush for his “arrogance” in forecasting the decline of world socialism.
Castro was especially scornful of Bush’s recent visits to Poland and Hungary, which he suggested were cynical attempts “to encourage capitalist trends that have developed there and political problems that have come up there.”
“Never has any (U.S.) Administration, not even (Ronald) Reagan’s, been as triumphant as this one regarding the difficulties in the socialist camp,” Castro complained to a rain-soaked crowd of many thousands here to celebrate the 36th anniversary of the start of the Cuban revolution.
As the Cuban president lashed out at the Bush Administration, America’s ranking diplomat in Cuba, John J. Taylor, pointedly arose from the diplomatic section of the speakers platform and walked out. Taylor also walked out on a speech last January when Castro hurled insults at then-President Reagan.
Castro appeared particularly incensed by what he called “the euphoria of imperialism” over ferment in the Communist world.
“The Bush Administration in the last few months has made statements based on the premise that the sun is setting on socialism or that socialism will end on the dust heap of history that was reserved for capitalism,” said the bearded leader, seemingly impervious to the rainfall that soaked his familiar green fatigue uniform.
“Even if tomorrow we wake up to the news of a civil war in the U.S.S.R., even if tomorrow we wake up to the news that the U.S.S.R. has disintegrated--a thing we don’t expect to happen--even under those circumstances, the Cuban people will continue fighting,” he said, grimly citing the current ethnic conflicts and labor unrest in the Soviet Union.
But in an unusually candid section of his nearly two-hour speech, Castro acknowledged that he is worried about the Soviet Union’s continued ability to support Cuba, to which it currently gives between $5 billion and $7 billion in economic aid each year.
“There are difficulties in the revolutionary world,” he said in a grave tone. “We cannot even say with certainty that the supplies that have been coming to our country will continue to arrive with the clocklike punctuality and as guaranteed as they have before.”
Castro was particularly caustic toward the Solidarity opposition movement in Poland and the Hungarian democratic opposition for the way they greeted Bush with anti-Communist banners during his recent tour.
“It is truly bitter, but this increases Bush’s euphoria and increases his triumphalism,” Castro said. “It increases imperialism’s hostility against Cuba, and it increases Mr. Bush’s theory that socialism is going to its downfall.
“If Bush thinks socialism is in decline . . . why should he change his policies toward Cuba?
“That’s why he is more arrogant than ever before,” Castro added.
Castro vowed that no matter what happens to the rest of the Communist world, Cuba will never give up, even in the face of a blockade or war and occupation by American troops. “Sooner or later, the price would be so high for the aggressors they would have to get out,” he vowed.
An American diplomat who heard the speech dismissed Castro’s raising of such threats as unimaginable.
“He’s extremely worried about the democratization movement in Eastern Europe and can only call up the specter of the Bay of Pigs invasion 28 years ago,” the diplomat said, referring to the failed assault on Cuba by U.S.-backed rightist exiles. He said Castro appears to be seeking a diversion in order to avoid talking about his own problems at home.
Castro failed even to mention the drug scandal that has absorbed all of Cuba for the last month. Four top military and intelligence officers were executed and 10 others received long prison sentences for trafficking cocaine across Cuba to the United States. The accused officers and other government figures also have been charged with a dolce vita life style involving sex parties and financial corruption.