Raul Castro goes public, says he has mobilized Cuba to repel U.S.In his first public declaration as acting president, Raul Castro said he has mobilized tens of thousands reservists and militia to defend Cuba against a potential U.S. threat."We could not rule out the risk of somebody going crazy, or even crazier, within the U.S. government," he said in an interview Friday in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.Under the headline "No enemy can defeat us," the 75-year-old Cuban defense minister lambasted what was described as President Bush's efforts to derail a peaceful succession of power in Cuba and boasted that "absolute tranquility is reigning in the country."But Raul Castro did not outline any changes in policy and he conducted the interview from his Defense Ministry office -- not the president's office -- indicating at least symbolically that his brother Fidel Castro still holds power.Frank Mora, a Cuba expert at the National War College in Washington, noted that Raul Castro spent two-thirds of the interview criticizing U.S. policy, indicating that anti-American rhetoric would remain a hallmark of any post-Fidel government."The U.S. card will continue to be part of an effort to create unity," Mora said. "This does not take away or address the real frustrations and pent-up pressure or demands for an improved standard of living among Cubans."But Wayne Smith, the top U.S. diplomat in Havana from 1979 to 1982, said he is not surprised by Raul Castro's harsh rhetoric, given the Bush administration's efforts to end Cuba's one-party system.Smith also noted that Raul Castro said in Friday's interview that he would be willing to negotiate with the U.S. on equal footing and normalize relations."This has been his position all along," said Smith, a frequent Bush critic who directs the Cuba program at the Center for International Policy, a Washington think tank. "In my one lengthy conversation with him in 1981 he expressed puzzlement about why we couldn't work something out."Dressed in his four-star general's uniform, Raul Castro also struck back at critics who questioned why the acting president had not spoken publicly until nearly three weeks after Fidel Castro temporarily ceded power to him July 31."As a point of fact, I am not used to making frequent appearances in public, except at times when it is required," Raul Castro said. "Many tasks related to defense should not be made public."Tom Casey, a U.S. State Department spokesman, said he wasn't "particularly enamored" with the interview of Raul Castro, whom he called "Fidel Lite.""What we want to see is a transition from the current dictatorship to a democratic government," Casey said. "And we certainly don't think that a transition from Fidel to Raul Castro fits that bill."Miguel Angel Perez, a 43-year-old sanitation worker, agreed with Raul Castro that the U.S. is a threat to Cuba and said the younger Castro would make an able leader should his brother not return to power.But a Cuban telephone worker said he disliked Raul Castro and expressed frustration that change was unlikely to occur in Cuba."He executed a lot of people," said the Havana resident. "Some should have been killed, but others shouldn't have. Cubans haven't forgotten that."The telephone worker was referring to Raul Castro's role shortly after the 1959 revolution when he presided over the execution of Cubans accused of serious crimes during the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.Although Fidel Castro tapped Raul Castro as his successor years ago, the younger Castro has remained largely out of the limelight even as he has led the Cuban military, a 50,000-strong force that is among the nation's most respected institutions, experts say.Analysts are uncertain about the actual state of Fidel Castro's health, which Castro himself declared a "state secret." Raul Castro said in his interview that Fidel Castro was continuing to recover from intestinal surgery.Since the surgery, the 80-year-old leader has been seen only in a handful of government-issued photographs and a short video shot last Sunday in which Raul Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also appeared.Fidel Castro was bedridden in the video but in good spirits.
Os Estados Unidos admitem levantar o embargo a Cuba se houver uma transição democrática do regime.O secretário de Estado adjunto para a América Latina afirma que, se Havana se empenhar na via da democracia e no respeito pelos direitos humanos, o Governo norte-americano está disposto a levantar o embargo.De recordar que o embargo está em vigor há 44 anos.Fidel Castro recupera da operação aos intestinos, o poder foi entregue, provisoriamente, ao irmão Raul Castro.