Castro Says Revolution Will Outlast Him
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Dismissing plots and
threats against his life, Fidel Castro bade farewell to the Dominican
Republic on Monday, insisting that his communist revolution will endure
long after he is gone.
"Men die. Peoples
are immortal," the 72-year-old Cuban leader told a
gathering of university students and leftist activists in a speech that lasted
more than five hours. "History marches on."
To push his point,
Castro referred to the extraordinarily heavy security
surrounding his five-day visit to the Dominican Republic -- motivated by
alleged threats in recent weeks by Cuban exiles to assassinate him here.
yes," he said of official concerns about the threats. But
he said he is not worried about the future.
"I'm not very
worried about what will happen in Cuba," Castro told his
doe-eyed audience. "The real question is 'What will happen in the world?"
It was a swan
song of sorts for Castro, who was wrapping up his
first-ever visit to the neighboring Dominican Republic in his 39 years as
Castro was persona non grata here. Fearing another Cuba
in the Caribbean, the United States supported conservative, anti-Castro
governments in the Dominican Republic, and in 1965 President Lyndon
B. Johnson sent 20,000 U.S. Marines to quash a leftist rebellion.
In the 1980s,
however, Dominican President Joaquin Balaguer opened
trade ties to Cuba. In 1996 his successor, Leonel Fernandez, restored
diplomatic relations. A crowning moment in Castro's visit was a cordial
meeting Sunday with the 91-year-old Balaguer, his old ideological
despite Balaguer's 24-year rule have a strong tradition
of leftist political activism, embraced Castro.
Castro also won
a broader welcome here by being admitted as an
observer to a two-day summit of 16 Caribbean nations. Caribbean
leaders no longer view him as a threat and are seeking his help in
negotiating better aid and benefits from trade partners such as the
Despite the reported
threats, there were few local protests of Castro's
visit. Cuban exile organizations published advertisements in Dominican
newspapers condemning Castro's human rights record and his system as
On Monday, Castro
recounted failed U.S. efforts against him, ranging
from the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1962 to the Helms-Burton Law designed
to scare away foreign investment in Cuba.
He even found
some humor in Helms-Burton, quipping, "Who are the
biggest defenders of communism in Cuba? The United States," for
discouraging capitalist investment.
Of the failed
Bay of Pigs invasion, Castro said: "The (exile) government
continued waiting in Miami. They're still waiting."