POLITICS

On eve of embassy opening, Fidel Castro says U.S. owes Cuba 'millions'

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro is turning 89 today, incidentally on the eve of the historic reopening of the U.S. embassy in Havana, and he is not short on present requests — he is asking the United States to pay “many, many millions of dollars” to the island nation for its hostile policies since the 1959 communist revolution.

In his “Reflections” column published Thursday in the official newspaper, Granma, Castro writes “Cuba is owed compensation, the equivalent of damages, amounting to many, many millions of dollars, as our country has reported and irrefutably documented at the United Nations."

The column also analyzes the consequences of World War II, and the wealth that the U.S. accumulated in the years that followed that conflict.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to attend Friday the ceremony marking the reopening of the embassy, a visit that will mark the first for a sitting secretary of state in more than 50 years.

The current Cuban president, Fidel’s brother Raúl, has stated that the normalization of relations, beyond the reestablishment diplomatic ties, won’t be complete until the U.S. lifts the sanctions imposed on the island for over half a century.

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Retired since 2006 when a sudden illness caused him to cede power, Fidel Castro now spends most of the time outside the public eye and meeting at his home with notable personalities and political allies.

On Wednesday night, Bolivian President Evo Morales arrived in Cuba in order to pay homage to the ex-president on his birthday.

"I am very pleased and happy be with our brother Fidel Castro on his birthday," Morales told local reporters on his arrival, according to a report by Granma.

Morales described the restoration of diplomatic relations with the U.S. and the reopening of embassies "a triumph" for Cuba and for "unity throughout the world," while condemning  the embargo.

Kerry will travel to the island on Friday for the formal ceremony reopening the embassy. The Cuban embassy in Washington was installed in July.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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