Last week, President Barack Obama made a historic visit to Cuba – making him the first sitting president in 88 years to step foot on the Caribbean island. Though he didn’t publicly meet with Raúl Castro until his second day in Cuba, the two spent time at a joint press conference and attended a baseball game together.
However, during his three days in Cuba, Barack never made a public appearance with former president Fidel Castro. Instead, days after his visit Fidel has written a 1,500-word letter addressed to Obama – or more specifically to “Brother Obama” – on the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, El Granma.
The letter starts off talking about the Spanish conquistadores, tourism, and José Martí before finally mentioning Obama 5 paragraphs in.
“Native populations do not exist at all in the minds of Obama,” Castro wrote, according to Politico. “Nor does he say that racial discrimination was swept away by the Revolution; that retirement and salary of all Cubans were enacted by this before Mr. Barack Obama was 10 years old.”
Castro’s comments on race seemed aimed at Barack’s speech in Cuba, during which he explicitly spoke about the challenges of racism. While the revolution did end segregation at schools and neighborhoods, that, of course, is not the same as ending racism.
In his letter, Castro also spoke about the failed Bay of Pigs invasion that killed and injured hundreds of Cubans. And he criticized Obama for the parts of history he chose to recognize in his speech. In the end, Castro said that the Cuban people do not need the United States’ help.
“It is assumed that each one of us ran the risk of having a heart attack upon hearing the words of the President of the United States. After a merciless blockade that has lasted almost 60 years, and those who have died in mercenary attacks on ships and Cuban ports, and airliner full of passengers detonated in midair, mercenary invasion, multiple acts of violence?” he wrote.
“No one should pretend that the people of this noble and selfless country will renounce its glory and its rights, or the spiritual wealth we have gained through the development of education, science, and culture. We are also capable of producing the food and material wealth that we need through the efforts and intelligence of our people. We don’t need the [U.S.] to give us anything. Our efforts will be legal and peaceful, because it is our commitment to peace and brotherhood of all human beings living on this planet.”
Read the full letter here.