The Cuban government accompanied its annual celebration of the anniversary of the Revolution this week with a postponed display of military might experts suggest was aimed at intimidating American President-elect Donald Trump.
Trump campaigned in part on undoing the concessions to Cuba’s Castro regime put into place by the current Obama administration.
Cuba had announced a “Fighting People’s March” to celebrate the military on November 23, shortly before the death of dictator Fidel Castro. December 2 was to be a national holiday, the “National Day of Defense,” to celebrate military exercises undertaken shortly after Trump was elected.
Following Castro’s death, younger brother Raúl postponed the march to this week. January 1 is also the anniversary of Fulgencio Batista’s flight from the island in 1959, after which Fidel Castro usurped power. NBC News reports the march featured both active troops and Cuban children waving “We are Fidel” signs. The government act culminated with a speech from student leader Jennifer Bello, who addressed the crowd wearing an “I am Fidel” shirt.
“Cuba will not renounce a single one of its principles,” Bello warned “nor will it cease demanding an end to subversive programs aimed at provoking change in the political, social, and economic order.” Paraphrasing Raúl Castro’s speech following President Barack Obama’s announcement that Washington would seek to legitimize the Castro regime in December 2014, Bello reiterated that Cuba “will not cede in the defense of its revolutionary and anti-imperialist ideals.”
The ceremonies also included a “renewal of commitment to the legacy of Fidel Castro,” according to state propaganda outlet Granma. “This anniversary arrives with questions regarding the arrival of Donald Trump to the White House,” Granma notes, “this fact could impact the future of the normalization process initiated by Cuba and the United States.”
“Before this challenge, the island persists in its disposition to advance a dialogue with this power [the United States] on the basis of reciprocal respect,” the newspaper continues, before demanding the United States gift the Guantánamo Bay military facility to Cuba and lift the embargo on business with the Communist nation.
As a Republican presidential candidate, Trump campaigned on reversing many of President Obama’s policies on Cuba. “The President’s one-sided deal for Cuba benefits only the Castro Regime,” he told an audience at an event in September. “All of the concessions that Barack Obama has granted the Castro Regime were done through executive order, which means the next President can reverse them,” he noted, promising to do so unless Raúl Castro ensured “religious and political freedom for the Cuban people.”
Following Fidel Castro’s death, Trump issued a statement calling him a “brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades,” prompting criticism from Communist Party controlled outlets. “Mr. Trump’s declarations, given his recent election to the presidency of the United States, can be described as disrespectful and inappropriate for a statesmen about to govern a country,” the Havana Tribune complained. “It is very lamentable that he dedicate himself to inappropriately and vulgarly assaulting the memory of a man like Fidel.”
Fidel Castro was responsible for over 10,000 deaths through extrajudicial killing, firing squads, “disappearances,” and other acts of intentional homicide, according to the Cuba Archive database, which is dedicated to finding and documenting the victims of the Cuban Revolution.