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 Castro slams US terrorism charge

Latest NewsCastro slams US terrorism charge
Washington Post, United States -By Esteban IsraelReuters

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban President Fidel Castro charged on Monday that the U.S. characterization of his country as a terrorist nation was cynical and shameless as Washington had harbored violence-prone Cuban exiles for decades.

The State Department, in its annual terrorism report released last week, once more included Cuba as one of six terrorist nations, along with North Korea, Iran, Libya, Syria and Sudan. "The Department of State has in a...

...cynical and shameless fashion accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of friendliness toward terrorism and Cuba of being a terrorist country," Castro said during a more than four-hour May Day speech.

Washington accused Cuba of harboring and aiding terrorists from Spain and Colombia, as well as fugitive Black Panthers and Puerto Rican independence militants from the United States.

Venezuela, Cuba's closest ally, was fingered for allowing Colombian guerrillas in its territory, being too friendly with Iran and Cuba, and not supporting the U.S. led war on terrorism.

Castro charged the United States had organized terrorist attacks on Cuba, from the 1976 bombing of Cuban commercial airliner to dozens of bombings and shootings over the years.


"Will this report conclude the endless chain of gross lies by the president of the United States about terrorism? No!" Castro told hundreds of thousands gathered in Havana's Revolution Square on Monday.

Castro accused the Bush administration of being behind Panama's 2004 pardon of former CIA agent Luis Posada Carriles and three others found guilty of planning to assassinate him during a 2000 Latin American Summit.

After their pardon all the men but Carriles received a hero's welcome in Florida. Carriles dropped from sight, only to appear in Miami last year where he was eventually imprisoned on immigration charges and is currently trying to obtain his freedom.

Carriles is widely believed to have masterminded the 1976 plane bombing in which 73 people died. A suspected co-conspirator in the terrorist attack and many other bombings, Orlando Bosch, lives in Miami.

Castro also spoke of the recent arrests in Florida and California of Cuban-Americans with large stores of arms and explosives. He said the arrests proved Cuba's long standing charge that the U.S. war on terrorism is a sham as it sponsors Cuban-American terrorists.

Castro also announced the economy was growing at a 12.5 percent clip despite Bush administration efforts to strengthen further the trade embargo slapped on the Caribbean island soon after the 1959 revolution.

The Bush administration has established a special blue-ribbon Commission for a Free Cuba, which in 2004 recommended new financial, trade and travel restrictions on the Caribbean island which were quickly implemented.

The commission plan to hasten a democratic transition in Cuba and control the process was also adopted.

President Bush recently reactivated the commission and asked for more recommendations which are due on his desk this month.

"Let's see what they are planning for May," Castro said, gloating that so far the Bush administration had proved unable to slow Cuba's economic advance.

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