HAVANA (AP) - Cuban President Fidel Castro launched an immense anti-American protest today with denunciations and ridicule of President George W. Bush, saying the U.S. leader was fraudulently elected and trying to impose “world tyranny.”
The Cuban leader led a sea of Cubans past the U.S. diplomatic mission here on the oceanfront Malecon Boulevard in a demonstration organized by the communist government against new U.S. measures aimed at squeezing the island’s economy and pushing out Castro.
The crowd chanted “Free Cuba! Fascist Bush!”
Castro said the march was “an act of indignant protest and a denunciation of the brutal, merciless and cruel measures” announced last week by Bush to tighten the 44-year U.S. embargo on the island.
The measures included restrictions on money transfers and family visits, increased efforts to transmit anti-Castro television to Cuba and appointment of a coordinator to plan a transition from socialism to capitalism.
Castro said 1 million people showed up. The number could not be confirmed, but the turnout was well into the hundreds of thousands. Many protesters wore red shirts and waved small Cuban flags.
Castro accused the United States of fighting “wars of conquest to seize the markets and resources of the world” while Cuba, he said, was sending abroad thousands of doctors to save lives.
He insisted that Bush had “no morality, nor any right at all to speak of liberty, democracy and human rights.” He said of Bush’s 2000 election victory, “all the world knows it was fraudulent.”
Posters portrayed the U.S. president wearing a Hitler mustache and accompanied by a Nazi swastika.
The U.S. measures, announced last week, are meant to reduce hard currency on the island by limiting how often Cuban-Americans can visit relatives, decreasing how much they can spend and prohibiting money transfers to Cuban officials and Communist Party members.