HAVANA – Fidel Castro called President Bush's State of the Union address a new low point in "demagoguery, lies and total lack of ethics" in a commentary published Wednesday.
The ailing 81-year-old leader wrote that "Bush tells us more with his external expressions than with the words written by his advisers," but added that "for a population that knows how to read, write and think, nobody can offer a more elegant criticism of the empire than Bush himself."
Castro and top Cuban officials routinely refer to the United States as "the empire."
In Wednesday's essay, called "The Antithesis of Ethics" and published on the front pages of government newspapers, Castro said Bush's latest speech was worse than earlier State of the Union addresses: "the worst for its demagoguery, lies and total lack of ethics."
Quoting extensively from Monday's address, Castro accused the Bush administration of running up U.S. debt and said Washington's wars have increased military spending worldwide by 60 percent.
Castro wrote that the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan "was the same thing that the U.S.S.R wanted to do, occupy the country with its powerful armed forces that were ultimately defeated when they ran into its customs, religion and cultural differences."
He said Bush used the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as an excuse to invade Iraq, and that "no one in the world doubts the objective was to occupy (Iraq's) oil installations and has cost that country's people hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions displaced from their homes."
Castro has not been seen in public since undergoing a series of emergency intestinal surgeries and stepping aside as president in favor of his younger brother Raul in July 2006. He is recovering from an undisclosed illness in a secret location, though life on the island has remained little-changed in his absence.
The elder Castro has remained head of the Council of State, Cuba's supreme governing body. Parliament next month will choose a new a council from among its members, which include both Castro brothers. Fidel has not said, however, whether he wants to remain the island's official head of state or permanently retire.
Also Wednesday, Cuba announced the results of parliamentary elections held Jan. 20, when voters ratified all 614 unopposed candidates for the legislature — with Raul narrowly topping Fidel in votes — 99.4 percent to 98.3 percent — in their Santiago district.