By Anita Snow
STANDING before the military barracks where he launched his revolutionary battle 50 years ago, Fidel Castro accused the European Union of being America’s Trojan Horse and saying its economic aid is no longer needed.
In a speech broadcast live on Saturday on state-run television and radio, the Cuban leader mocked Europe’s political leaders, saying they were unable to deal independently with the communist state without taking American policies into consideration.
“Cuba does not need the help of the European Union to survive,” Mr Castro told an enthusiastic crowd of about 10,000 invited guests, mostly Cuban officials and party leaders gathered for the 50th anniversary of the battle that launched their revolution.
Mr Castro was enraged in early June when the EU announced it was reviewing its policies toward Cuba over human rights concerns. He also was troubled by Britain’s support of US military action in Iraq.
The EU, Cuba’s largest trade and investment partner, opened an office in Havana earlier this year to administer the $16.4 million it provides the island in annual aid.
Mr Castro, who turns 77 next month, is the world’s longest ruling head of government and his island nation is among only four communist systems in the world and the only one in the Americas.
But Mr Castro’s government is struggling with a severe cash crisis, despite a recent jump in the number of visitors to the island following a slump following the September 11 attacks.