HAVANA – Fidel Castro said Russia had betrayed Cuba and formed an alliance with the United States when Moscow severed agreements with the communist island after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
"I do not try to blame any one leader in particular. It was the fruit of its (Russia's) errors and the painful way in which it lost the ideological battle against the western capitalist and imperialist bourgeoisie, under the standard of the United States," Castro said in speech reported by Sunday the Communist Party daily Granma.
"Russia, allied with the United States, broke all the accords and betrayed Cuba," Castro said in the speech delivered Saturday to mark the recent renovation of more than 100 primary secondary schools in Havana.
Cuba still is struggling to recover from the economic crisis triggered by the loss of aid and preferential trade agreements as the Soviet bloc disintegrated a decade ago.
Castro currently is leading the country in a particularly intense ideological campaign, crowned last week by the rubber-stamp parliament amending the constitution to make Cuban socialist system "irrevocable."
Because of Cuba's severe economic crisis, hundreds of primary and secondary schools in the nation's capital had classrooms without windows, bathrooms without doors, leaky roofs and antiquated plumbing. Castro said other schools became unusable and blamed the tightening of U.S. trade sanctions during the 1990s.
Castro said — despite abandonment by the Soviet Union and the sanctions squeeze of the United States — Cuba, "a small country, a few miles from the victorious and hegemonic superpower, decided to fight under the best principles of the socialist ideal," Castro said.
"Because of that, when the capitalist world sank into what has become a profound economic and social crisis, our people resist and emerge as a stunning example for the rest of the peoples of the world," he said.
Castro's words came two days after the Group of Eight economic summit of the world's most economically powerful countries ended in Canada, where leaders agreed to help Russia dispose of its Soviet-era arsenal of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
The $20 billion program was met with a mixed response in Moscow, where some retired military leaders and others have accused President Vladimir Putin of capitulating to the West by agreeing to cooperate more closely with NATO and assuming full membership in the G-8.
Havana, too, has criticized Moscow's alliance with NATO, as well as its decision two years ago to close the Russian intelligence listening post built on Cuba two years after the 1962 missile crisis. The Russian decision to place offensive missiles on Cuba took Washington and Moscow to the brink of war, before the missiles were withdrawn and Washington also made military concessions to Russia regarding American deployments in Turkey.