Castro Says Congress Isn't Going Far Enough

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

( - Cuban President Fidel Castro said Thursday some members of the U.S. Congress are showing "good will" by attempting to lift what he called the "economic blockade" against the communist nation, but at the same time he doesn't think Congress is going far enough.

"They now talk about approving what they call a softening of the blockade. But how can that be, if they maintain all those laws that make up the blockade? How would a poor, blockaded nation that has been submitted to the longest economic war in history obtain the necessary resources to buy food and medicine? How can a nation that is not allowed to sell its products be able to buy anything? In practice, it's impossible," Castro said in a speech broadcast over Radio Havana.

Castro explained what the meaning of the word "blockade" is.

"We call it a blockade and an economic war because to blockade is to prohibit. They call it an "embargo" to prohibit others from engaging in any business transaction with Cuba.

Castro accused the United States of pressure the rest of the world not to invest in those sectors of the Cuban economy that have been opened to foreign investment. "They threaten any foreign company trying to invest in or do any kind of business with Cuba," Castro said.

He called it one of the greatest injustices being committed in the world today.

"Some people of goodwill in the United States, including an ever-growing number of U.S. lawmakers have finally realized how cruel and unjustified the blockade is. They have presented some legislation and have even achieved some results," Castro said.

But even though the United States allowed food and medicine sales to Cuba in 1998, Castro still wasn't satisified.

"They said two years ago that they were willing to sell medicine to Cuba. I think that over that period of time we have been able to purchase some $60,000 dollars worth of medicine."

Castro was speaking in Havana after receiving the an award for defending "the sovereignty and independence of the Third World."

Radio Havana also reported that Berta Zapata, head of the Mexican delegation who presented the Benito Juarez Order award to Castro, praised his "active involvement" in the struggle for independence and the right to self-determination.

She added that the Cuban leader's firm opposition to any foreign interference in the internal affairs of other nations and his "efforts toward peace" have won him international recognition.

The Benito Juarez Order is sponsored by 270 organizations from 23 countries, including the African National Congress (ANC), Mexico's Anti-Apartheid Committee, the Anti-Imperialist Tribunal of Our America, the International Organization of Journalists, and the Confederation of the Latin American Journalists.

The Benito Juarez Order was first conferred in 1989 to South African President Nelson Mandela.