Castro: 'I Will Die Fighting' if U.S. Invades Cuba
Friday, January 30, 2004; 6:51 AM
By Anthony Boadle
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban President Fidel Castro vowed on
Friday to die fighting "with a gun in my hand" if the United
States invaded Cuba to overthrow his communist government.
"I don't care how I die, but for sure, if they invade us, I
will die fighting," the 77-year-old leader said at a meeting of
anti-free trade activists from across the hemisphere.
Castro, who was the target of countless CIA assassination
plots in the 1960s, called on the Bush administration to
clarify to the world what its policy was on assassinating
Earlier this month, Bush Administration officials accused
Cuba of joining forces with Venezuela's leftist government to
destabilize democratic governments in Latin America.
President Bush last year named a commission to speed up a
post-Castro transition to democratic rule in Cuba.
Havana is worried that Cuba could be the next on Bush's
list for a regime change after Iraq.
"We don't want a conflict, but we will not give an inch on
our principles," Castro said in a rambling five-and-a-half-hour
Castro said Cuba was prepared to resist invasion, with
"hundreds of thousands" of soldiers ready to defend the island
with guerrilla tactics he had used in the Sierra Maestra
mountains to defeat a dictator's army and seize power in 1959.
He said instructions have been given in the case he were to
die in a surgical strike.
"This nation will never surrender ... We have taken all the
measures. Everyone knows what to do," Castro said.
Western diplomats said Cuban authorities were preparing the
population for a possible invasion with training drills.
Castro said Washington "should explain to the world what
its position is on its powers to order assassinations."
A U.S. presidential directive from the 1970s banned the
assassination of foreign leaders, but the Bush Administration
appeared to waive the ban when it made clear that Iraq's Saddam
Hussein was to be considered a target before last year's
Castro spoke to more than 1,000 activists, from Andean
Indians and landless Brazilians to Canadian postal workers, who
met in Havana to plan protests against the U.S.-backed Free
Trade Area of the Americas.
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