Jeers, cheers await Castro in Peru
LIMA, Peru, Nov 21 (Reuters) -- Friends of Cuban President Fidel Castro
promised on Wednesday that the veteran communist leader would receive a
"spectacular welcome" when he arrived in Peru for a weekend summit.
Cuban exiles, however, called him a "fascist" and pledged vocal demonstrations
against his government.
Castro, 75, is expected in Lima for an annual summit of leaders from Latin
America, Spain and Portugal on Nov. 23 and 24.
Peru's biggest trade union confederation said it would be out in force,
supporters, to greet "companion Castro" at the airport. Cuba has not confirmed
when -- or even whether -- Castro will arrive, but he usually attends the annual
Ibero-American summit, and Cuban officials are already in Lima.
Cuban exiles were gearing up for to give him a bitter welcome of their
Castro's government had tortured and shot their relatives for speaking out in
"Ibero-America has democracy, Cuba has dictatorship. Why?" Mothers and
Women Against Repression, which has sent a half-dozen of its 300 members to
Lima from Miami, asked in a letter the group hopes to present to the summit.
"We have come to show the reality of Cuba, to condemn this regime and to
out about the incongruity that it represents," the group's head, Silvia Iriondo, told
She criticized the "double standards" of regional leaders, saying, "We
waiting now for 10 (Ibero-American) summits for our demands to be heard."
Peru is mobilizing 22,000 police officers to guard the 23 heads of state
government in this poor Andean nation's biggest international gathering. Castro,
who travels with extensive armed security of his own, last year denounced a plot to
ki ll him at the Ibero-American summit in Panama.
Iriondo said her group's message to the assembled leaders would be published
Comercio, Peru's most respected newspaper, on Thursday, the day before the
David Rodriguez, the head of a group of exiles in Peru, said his Union
was organizing an anti-Castro march through the streets of Lima on Friday.
"I consider Castro's dictatorship like a leftist fascism. In the past,
(Second World War Nazi leader) Adolf Hitler, one of the biggest killers in history. I
believe Castro is the Latin American Hitler, a fascist of the left," he said.
But Peru's biggest labor body, the General Confederation of Workers of
it would be rolling out a red carpet for the veteran fighter.
Castro, who often appears in trademark olive green fatigues, led a two-year
guerrilla war before toppling dictator Fulgencio Batista in his communist revolution
"We are coordinating a welcome with civil groups and political parties
companion Castro as president of the only Latin American country that offers real
resistance to the dominance of the United States," confederation head Juan Jose
Gorriti told Reuters, promising a "spectacular" 1,500-person welcome.
"Fidel is the man who personifies the dignity of Latin America, the dignity
people that has fought against domination, with its errors and incompetences, but
that has fought," he added.
Copyright 2001 Reuters.