Castro hits out at US and EU 'blackmail'

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Castro hits out at US and EU 'blackmail'

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Cuba’s president Raul Castro has accused the United States and the EU of blackmailing the country by supporting opposition dissidents.

Castro, who took over the presidency from his brother Fidel in 2008, made his remarks in an address to the Communist Youth Congress on Sunday.

“The celebration of this Congress coincides with a huge campaign to discredit Cuba, which is being organised, headed and financed by the centres of imperial power in the United States and in Europe,” he told delegates. “We won’t give in to this kind of blackmail from any country or any group of nations, whether they’re powerful or not.”

Cuba’s rights record has been under scrunity after a government-led crackdown on political opponents.

One of them is journalist Guillermo Farinas, who is now on hunger strike in jail.

He is refusing to eat or drink as he languishes in jail in Havana.

His campaign began after fellow dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo died on February 23 from the effects of his own hunger strike.

That sparked a protest from the so-called Ladies in White movement, a group formed by wives, mothers and daughters of Cuba’s political prisoners.