Castro: Mexican has lots of work ahead, hope among its people
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) -- Cuban President Fidel Castro said Saturday
Mexico had many social problems to solve as its new government takes office,
but he sees hope that things could change.
In a speech to city officials, broadcast to several thousand supporters
Mexico's main plaza, Fidel described President Vicente Fox's inauguration day
Friday as happy.
"I see from everyone a desire to do something for Mexico, a desire to work
Mexico," he said.
However, he called Fox's proposal to eventually expand the North American
Trade Agreement into a common market, allowing the free movement of all
goods and workers between borders, as "ironic."
Castro said current U.S. immigration policy is an "assassin's law" that
deaths of hundreds of Mexicans and Cubans trying to sneak into their northern
neighbor each year.
Castro met with Fox on Friday, but made no public comments afterward. Fox,
of the conservative National Action Party, described the 45-minute meeting as
good and said he planned to visit Cuba next year.
Outgoing President Ernesto Zedillo visited Cuba only to attend a regional
and irked Cuban officials with pointed comments about human rights.
Mexico's new leader, a former Coca-Cola executive, has pledged to continue
country's opposition to the U.S. embargo against the Communist island, but has
said he would like to see a democratic transition in Cuba.
Castro's meeting Saturday with Mexico City Mayor Rosario Robles, of the
Democratic Revolution Party, was broadcast to the plaza outside. Robles gave
Castro the keys to the city, and pledged to monitor Fox's government to make
sure that the country's poor and disenfranchised aren't forgotten.
Echoing Castro's call to fight for poorer countries' rights within the
economy, Robles said: "We are obligated to talk with a single voice."
Castro said Mexico -- like many countries around the globe -- still has
do to in resolving its social problems.
Fox has pledged to reduce poverty by 30 percent and invest revenues from
growing economy into better health care and education.
With a rapt crowd waving Cuban and Mexican flags, Castro reminisced about
his days in Mexico, where he planned the Cuban revolution and set out on the
now-famous boat called the Granma that carried him home to start his revolution
against the Batista dictatorship.
He praised Mexico for being the only Latin American country that refused
break relations after the 1959 revolution.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.