Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez described President Barack Obama’s visit to the island in March as an “attack… on our history, our culture, and our symbols” at an assembly of nationwide Communist Party leaders on Monday.
Rodríguez was speaking at the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party, a meeting to vote for the party’s leaders, when he praised Cubans for surviving “a visit in which there was a deep attack on our conception [of society], on our history, on our culture and our symbols.” Rodríguez has been a prominent figure in Cuba’s diplomatic stable against the United States, attending the opening of the Cuban embassy in Washington and greeting President Obama in Havana upon Air Force One landing (notably absent in the welcoming party: dictator Raúl Castro).
Rodríguez’s remarks echo those in an open letter to President Obama published in the communist state publication Granma last month, allegedly authored by former dictator Fidel Castro. The letter accused President Obama of racism against Native Americans and attacking communist Cuba’s “glory and rights, and the spiritual wealth it has gained” through Marxism. “We do not need the Empire to gift us anything,” the author, allegedly Castro, wrote.
The Communist Party Congress is being held through the observance of the 55th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs disaster, which the Castro regime considers a military victory against the United States. Between April 17 and 19, 1961, 114 Cuban-Americans were slaughtered upon attempting to invade Cuba; the high death toll occurred because their invasion plan necessitated American air support, which President John F. Kennedy denied them without telling them. The Cuban military, witnesses contend, had little to do with their killing compared to the efforts of the Kennedy White House to sabotage the strike.
Amid the anti-American fervor at the Communist Party Congress, Raúl Castro gave a more than two-hour-long speech, intermittently praising communism and mocking democratic republics with two-party systems. “If they succeed in fragmenting us someday, that will be the beginning of the end,” he told his audience, claiming that two-party systems are as democratic as Cuba’s dictatorship. “You have one party, too,” he claimed to tell American critics. “The Democratic and Republican Parties… are as if in Cuba we had two parties, and Fidel ran one of them while I ran the other.”
Raúl Castro was overwhelmingly reelected the head of the Communist Party for another five-year term, which would make him the leader of the only party in the country after 2018, when he has publicly claimed he will step down as dictator of Cuba. Fidel Castro allegedly voted, with his young brother slipping “Fidel’s” ballot into the voting boxes.
The Cuban communist government is attempting to cement its power in the face of unprecedented resistance from pro-democracy groups, who have become larger and more active in recent years. According to one report, the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), a pro-freedom NGO, gathered more than 1,000 dissidents in public in eastern Santiago de Cuba on Sunday. Also on Sunday, dissidents recorded an unusual instance of popular resistance, in which locals in Havana attempted to prevent Cuban police from beating and arresting members of the Ladies in White dissident group. Over twenty Ladies in White members were beaten and arrested following their attendance at Sunday Catholic Mass, as they are every Sunday.