Cubas Castro denounces US confrontation

Cuban First Secretary of Communist Party Raul Castro gives a speech on January 1, 2019Image copyright

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Raul Castro was speaking in front of the tomb of his brother, Fidel

Former Cuban President Raul Castro has accused the US of returning to its policy of confrontation.

Mr Castro, who is still head of Cuba’s ruling Communist Party, was speaking on the 60th anniversary of the revolution led by his brother, Fidel.

He urged Cubans to prepare for all scenarios to defend their independence and said the revolution “had not aged”.

The Castro brothers, first Fidel and then Raul, ruled the country between 1959 and 2018.

Raul Castro handed over the Cuban presidency to Miguel Diaz-Canel earlier this year.

Relations between Cuba and the US thawed under the Obama administration but President Donald Trump has taken a harder line.

In 2017, Mr Trump reimposed certain travel and trade restrictions eased by the previous US government.

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Media captionWhat’s changed in US-Cuba policy under Trump?

“Once again, the US government seems to be on the road to confronting Cuba and presenting our peaceful and inclusive country as a threat to the region,” Mr Castro, dressed in his military uniform, said in a ceremony held near Fidel’s tomb.

“Once again, they want to make Cuba guilty of all the evils of the region.”

Mr Castro accused “the far right” in Florida – where many Cuban exiles live – of having “confiscated US policy towards Cuba”.

“I reiterate our willingness to coexist in a civilised way despite our differences, in a relationship of peace, respect and mutual benefit with the United States.”

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The ceremony was held in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in the south-eastern city of Santiago de Cuba

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Raul Castro stood alongside Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel

Mr Castro said new generations of Cubans had “assumed the mission of constructing socialism”, adding that “the revolution hasn’t aged”.

But BBC Central America correspondent Will Grant says Mr Diaz-Canel faces a huge battle in satisfying the demands of today’s young Cubans.

A referendum on a new draft constitution will be held in February but many are growing impatient for greater social freedoms and increased economic opportunities, our correspondent says.

Government supporters insist the new constitution will reflect a changing Cuba but critics say it will simply concentrate power in the Communist Party’s hands.

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