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Castro Says US Wants Cuba to Be Slave

Reuters staff

Cuban President Raul Castro gives a speech on January 1, 2009 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution in Havana. Fidel Castro blasted US President Barack Obama Friday in provocative May Day remarks, saying the United States only wanted Cuba to return "to the fold, like slaves." (AFP/File/Rodrigo Arangua)

HAVANA - Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro on Thursday derided U.S. steps towards improving relations with the communist island, saying the United States wants Cuba to act like a slave willing to "accept again the whip and the yoke."

The 82-year-old Castro, writing in a column published on the Internet, said "the adversary should never be under the illusion that Cuba will surrender."

President Barack Obama has said he wants to recast U.S.-Cuban relations that have been hostile for 50 years, but insists on maintaining a U.S. trade embargo imposed against the island since 1962 to use as leverage for Cuban change.

He recently eliminated travel restrictions for Cuban Americans and called on Cuba to release political prisoners and improve human rights to get more concessions from Washington.

But Fidel Castro and his younger brother, President Raul Castro, view U.S. conditions as infringing on Cuban sovereignty, or worse.

"The collision between the great power of the North and the Cuban revolution was inevitable. The heroic resistance of the people of our small country was underestimated," Castro wrote.

"Today they are willing to forgive us if we will resign ourselves to returning to the fold as slaves that, after knowing freedom, will accept again the whip and the yoke."

Both Castros have expressed a willingness to talk with the United States, and informal, low-level talks have already begun in Washington.

But they publicly insist that Cuba does not have to make concessions to move the diplomatic process forward.

In Thursday's column, Castro said a wary Cuba was carefully studying Obama to determine his true intentions.

"We are not arsonists as some imagine, but nor are we idiots easily fooled by those who believe the only things important in the world are the laws of the market and the capitalist system of production," he said.

"There still exist those who have the illusion that people can be manipulated like puppets."

Castro did not mention it, but on Thursday the U.S. State Department issued a report on terrorism in which Cuba remained on a list of countries regarded as "state sponsors of terrorism."

There had been speculation Cuba would be taken off the list as part of the Obama administration's efforts at reconciliation.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez brushed the report off, telling reporters in Havana, "I don't think anybody reads those documents ... because they know that the author is an international criminal in many of the issues it criticizes."

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