From Mail & Guardian Online:
Strollers soaking up the sea spray along Havana’s famed Malecón waterfront boulevard absorbed an impromptu lesson on America’s civil rights movement this week when the United States mission began flashing passages from Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech on a giant screen.
In the latest exchange in the US-Cuban cultural war, the electronic tickertape mounted on the fifth floor of the US Interests Section in Havana began beaming King’s quotes in 2,7 metre-high red letters.
The passages were interspersed with sections from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, promising freedom from arbitrary arrest or exile, and inspirational sayings from anti-communist leaders such as Poland’s Lech Walesa and the Czech Republic’s Vaclav Havel.
The illuminations so outraged Cuba’s president, Fidel Castro, that he called for a mass protest today in front of the mission, which is housed in the Swiss embassy. In a three-hour televised speech on Sunday night, Castro described the signs as a provocation intended to break off what limited contact has survived between the two countries, which do not have diplomatic relations. “The US government … is deliberately trying to force a rupture in the actual diplomatic relations,” he said. “The gross provocation … can have no other purpose.”
I don’t understand what Castro is so upset about do you? I mean these are just words of freedom, so why would happy and free Cuba have a problem with people reading those words? What harm could it possibly cause? The Left in this country keeps telling us how wonderful Cuba is and we are all brainwashed to think otherwise. Well, if that is true, why wouldn’t Castro want MLK’s message to be viewed by the Cuban people?
What about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Why would Castro have a problem with his people reading about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? I wonder…
The signs were activated as Castro began speaking Tuesday morning.
“It’s nonsense!” Carla Smith, a 61-year-old lawyer among those marching, said of the signs. “Within a few days, we’ll have forgotten all about them.”
The signs on the oceanfront building are the latest salvo in an ongoing billboard war between the two countries.
Cuba more than a year ago erected signs outside the mission with photographs of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners and a huge swastika with a “Made in the U.S.A” stamp.
The signs were switched out on Monday for new ones equating Bush with Posada and Adolf Hitler.
Cuban authorities accuse U.S. officials of protecting Posada Carriles, characterized by Castro as the worst terrorist in the Western Hemisphere.
The U.S. Interests Section in Havana handles consular affairs in the absence of full diplomatic relations.
The Cuban leader also accused the Bush administration of working with Cuban exiles in Miami to violate migration accords between the two countries, to block the legally permitted sales of American food to the island and of violating Cuba’s independence with a post-Castro transition plan authorities here say is a thinly veiled attempt at regime change.
“The government of President Bush knows very well that no government in the world can accept such a perverse insult to its dignity and sovereignty,” Castro said.
Fidel Castro accused the United States of seeking to rupture the minimum remaining diplomatic ties with his country, addressing tens of thousands of Cubans before starting a march outside the American mission here on Tuesday.
“The rude provocations that have been undertaken from its Interests Office in Havana does not, and could not, have any other goal,” Castro said from a podium before the sea of cheering people stretching out along Havana’s Malecon coastal highway ahead of the government-organized march.
“Bush: fascist! Condemn the terrorist!” the marchers chanted, most of them waving little red, white and blue Cuban flags and signs equating President Bush with Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles, whom Castro accuses of a series of violent actions against the island. “Cuba will triumph!” they shouted.
Among those Castro greeted before his speech was former Nicaraguan president and Sandinista Party leader Daniel Ortega.
Also seen in the crowd were Castro’s wife, Dalia, his older brother Ramon and his eldest son Fidel Jr., along with top Communist Party leaders. The marchers included Elian Gonzalez, the boy at the center of an international custody battle in 2000, and his family, as well as relatives of five Cuban agents imprisoned in the United States.