Florida Lawmaker Says Castro Is Slapping U.S. By Visiting Iran

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:09 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Cuban Leader Fidel Castro's latest visit to Iran after spending a few days in Algeria has aroused the ire of a Florida lawmaker, a Cuban exile, who believes the communist leader is slapping the United States in the face.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said Wednesday at a Capitol Hill news conference "He can't make it any clearer to the world that he is a despotic, tyrannical leader who visits other authoritarian regimes. He doesn't give a hoot about world opinion. He slaps the face of the United States each and every time he can, and still these governments fall all over themselves, frothing at the mouth, drooling, to get the chance to say hello to Fidel Castro."

"It's just amazing to me," Ros-Lehtinen said, "that he aligns himself with leaders of countries that are enemies of the U.S. and have had a history of anti-U.S. actions, and still these other leaders of democratic countries invite him to international forums."

"Castro can't be any clearer about his direction for the Cuban people", said Ros-Lehtinen. "He likes those regimes. He thinks that's the way to go. These are the kind of countries that get accepted into the [United Nations] Human Rights Commission. Then they will judge us as to whether we have committed human rights abuses or not. If it weren't happening, we would think it's a cruel irony."

Radio Havana reported Tuesday that Castro held a news conference in Tehran, Iran and said he was pleased at the progress that the Islamic country has made since the overthrow of the Shah back in the 70s.

Castro said that before the Shah's overthrow, Iran had played out a "very sad role for U.S. imperialism, acting as the region's principal gendarme." He also said today's Iran is very different because it has become the "main bulwark of independence and dignity."

On Wednesday, Castro had even more scathing criticism of the United States, saying it is an "imperialist king" that is destined to fall. He told Iranians at Tehran's Teachers' Training University, "You destroyed the strongest gendarme of the region not with guns, but with your thoughts, and the people of the region should thank you for that."

The university also awarded Castro an honorary doctorate for his struggle against the United States.

Castro also said, "Today, there is a king in the world a thousand times stronger than the shah you overthrew, and that is the imperialist king living next to my homeland. However, this imperialist king will finally fall, just as your king was overthrown."

Castro will be in Iran for three days. He arrived Monday after visiting Algeria. He is also expected to visit Malaysia and Qatar. The Cuban communist government never announces Castro's travel schedule in advance.