Cuban leader Fidel Castro celebrated his 89th birthday Thursday by maintaining that the United States owes his country "many millions of dollars" following the imposition of a trade embargo 50 years ago.
Castro passed the message through an essay that was available in Cuban media, ahead of U.S. secretary of state John Kerry makes a historically significant visit to Cuba to re-establish the U.S. embassy as part of the country’s effort to restore diplomatic relations.
The trade ban that the United States imposed on socialist Cuba three years after Castro took over power from a U.S.-backed administration through the historic 1962 coup remains functional despite the adverse economic effects.
While President Barack Obama is optimistic that congress will lift the embargo, other top U.S. officials think it will take some time and is not a guaranteed part of the restoration efforts as it calls for congressional action.
Many republican legislators, who command both chambers of the legislative house, are opposed to the idea, maintaining that before the restoration of the relationship Cuba must make some democratic reforms and perk up its human rights record.
In his essay, Castro said, "Cuba is owed compensation equivalent to damages, which total many millions of dollars, as our country has stated with irrefutable arguments and data in all of its speeches at the United Nations."
Castro did not give any details on the exact amount of money he thought Washington owes Havana. The Americans, on the other hand, claim reparation for U.S.-owned property that was taken away when Castro ousted the U.S.-backed government.
Castro did not talk about Kerry’s visit to revive the American embassy, a move that comes eight months after Castro’s brother and successor Raul and Obama announced intentions to reinstate bilateral relations. It formally went into operation July 20.
Fidel Castro handed over power to his younger brother Raul in 2006, after poor health forced him to step down.
For many years, Fidel Castro has been a common contributor of articles to the communist party magazine Granma and related media. Thursday's essay was his first writing since May 8th.
Speaking about his contribution, Castro said, "Writing is a way to be useful, if you keep in mind that we poor humans must be more and better educated in the face of the incredible ignorance that surrounds us all, except for researchers who use science to seek a satisfactory answer."
Cubans are celebrating Castro's 89th birthday with an extensive array of events.