Thu, Jan 26, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Castro directs mass anti-Bush protests in Havana

AP , HAVANA

People march as red luminescent messages are displayed along the fifth floor of the US mission building in Havana, Cuba, on Tuesday.

PHOTO: AP

Cuban President Fidel Castro directed a vast protest march past the US mission in Havana, leading many thousands of cheering Cubans who carried signs equating US President George W. Bush with Adolf Hitler, and accused the US of preparing to free one of the hemisphere's worst terrorists.

The government-sponsored march on Tuesday coincided with a US court deadline for evidence to be filed in the case of Luis Posada Carriles, a former CIA operative and anti-Castro militant held on immigration charges at a detention center in El Paso, Texas. His lawyers are seeking his freedom as US immigration authorities seek his deportation.

Castro called Posada a "repugnant character" as well as a terrorist as he spoke to a sea of cheering Cubans along the coastal Malecon highway.

Cuba and Venezuela accuse the Cuban-born Posada of masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner and staging bombings in Havana in 1997 and 1998. Together the attacks killed 74 people. Castro also has accused Posada and his colleagues of plotting to assassinate him at a summit in Panama in November 2000.

"We don't want revenge, we just want justice," said Lucia Roja, a retired educator. Although she is 67 and diabetic, Roja said, "It's important to be here -- I've never missed a march."

Organized by school, work and military groups, several hundred thousand marchers waved little red, white and blue Cuban flags and chanted "Bush: fascist! Condemn the terrorist!"

The 79-year-old Cuban leader watched the nearly seven-hour event, then marched himself at the end.

Another focus of Castro's ire is a new electronic sign installed outside the US Interests Section in Havana, which handles consular affairs in the absence of full diplomatic relations.

The sign was activated as Castro began speaking on Tuesday, relaying global news and quotes including Abraham Lincoln's: "No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent."

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