HAVANA : Cuba’s communist government called a mass protest against the United States, and increasingly is putting the population on a war footing amid new US moves aimed at speeding the end of President Fidel Castro’s rule.
Friday’s protest will take place along Havana’s famous Malecon waterfront boulevard, where the US Interests Section section is located, said the Communist Party’s official newspaper, Granma.
Last week, US President George W. Bush endorsed measures to tighten the US embargo against Cuba by restricting Cuban-Americans’ cash remittances to relatives on the island and limiting family visits between the United States and Cuba to one every three years.
The remittances are a pillar of the Cuban economy worth some 1.2 billion dollars a year.
The plan also involves the use of US military aircraft to broadcast pro-democracy radio and television programs into Cuba.
The United States has had a comprehensive economic embargo clamped on Cuba since 1962.
Cuban dissidents have harshly criticized the new measures.
Elizardo Sanchez Santacruz, who leads the National Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, called them “counter-productive.”
Meanwhile, the Cuban government—which long has contended the United States could invade, but stepped up warnings of the potential for a US military move after the US-led invasion of Iraq—is readying Cubans for the possibility of war.
“The fundamental work is to continue perfecting the tactics, the techniques, the methods and the principles of the war of all people,” the government said in a statement Monday. Since last year’s US-led war in Iraq, city militias have trained during “defense Sundays.”
The island of 11.2 million people, which is larger than Portugal (roughly the size of the US state of Virginia) put in place plans for the evacuation of children and the elderly and created 1,400 Defense Zones with militia brigades comprised of people unable to join regular forces.
Militias are armed with small anti-aircraft rocket launchers, while fields have been littered with landmines, which the government calls “the weapon of the poor.”
Cuban authorities say their strategy is to involve the enemy in a long conflict, “an inferno worse than Vietnam.”
Cuba has also countered the United States’ tougher economic sanctions by imposing tough new austerity measures on its people, including a sharp reduction in sales at stores that accept dollars and a push for greater self-sufficiency.
“Days of work and sacrifice await us, but so do glory and victory for our heroic fatherland,” the communist government said Monday.