Saturday, August 19, 2006

Fidel 'Light' Prepares For US Invasion

Cuba's interim leader Raul Castro said he had mobilized Cuban troops and increased military readiness, in the face of 'threats' from the United States, on the day his ailing brother Fidel handed over power almost three weeks ago. In his first interview since taking over as leader of Cuba, Raul Castro told the Communist Party's newspaper Granma that he had raised the troops' readiness and called up 'tens of thousands' of reservists. 'We could not rule out the risk of somebody going crazy, or even crazier, within the US government,' Castro, who is also the country's defence minister, said in the interview. Castro said he began augmenting the force on August 1 - the day it was announced that he would take over from Fidel Castro to allow the long-time Cuban leader to undergo surgery to stop intestinal bleeding.Raul Castro also said his 80-year-old brother, who had never before surrendered power during his 47-year rule, was on his way to recovery, and thanked the Cuban people for the thousands of goodwill messages he said Fidel had received. Raul Castro said the US could not influence any change in Cuba, but said he was willing to normalize diplomatic relations with its long-time enemy. 'At this juncture, they should be very clear that it is not possible to achieve anything in Cuba with impositions and threats,' Castro said.
Raúl Castro
'On the contrary, we have always been disposed to normalize relations on an equal plane. What we do not accept is the arrogant and interventionist policy frequently assumed by the current administration of that country.' The United States dismissed Castro's remarks. 'What do we think of them? I guess, not much is the answer,' US State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey told reporters. 'We're not particularly fond, as you know, of the government of Cuba as run by Fidel,' Casey said. 'I can't say that we're particularly enamoured of the first words we've heard from 'Fidel light'.' The United States has sought to step up pressure on the Castro regime and called for a transition to democratic rule since the temporary handover of power was announced.