Cuba minister calls Obama visit 'an attack' as Communists defend ideology
HAVANA, April 18 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Communist-led Cuba was an "attack" on its history and culture aimed at misleading a new business class, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Monday, the latest sign of anger after the ground-breaking trip last month.
"In this visit, there was a deep attack on our ideas, our history, our culture and our symbols," Rodriguez said at the Communist Party congress.
Cuban leaders have hardened their language against the United States since Obama became the first U.S. president to visit the island in 88 years, with Fidel Castro accusing him of sweet-talking the people.
President Raul Castro referred to the United States as "the enemy" in the opening speech of the party congress over the weekend and told Cubans to be alert to U.S. attempts to weaken the revolution.
The congress, held every five years, must make decisions about the future of Cuba's elderly leadership and the progress of market-style economic reforms adopted in 2011 that allowed more small businesses.
The measures have been only partially implemented, a reflection of resistance from hard-liners who distrust market economics and fear the detente with the United States at a time when Cubans are increasingly vocal about their needs.
"The harsh rhetorical push-back by the ideological wing of the Communist Party suggests their heightened sense of vulnerability," said Richard Feinberg, a former national security adviser to U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Rodriguez accused Obama of coming to "dazzle" the private sector, highlighting concern that U.S. promises to empower Cuban entrepreneurs were aimed at building opposition to the single-party system in office since 1959.
"Socialism and the Cuban revolution are the guarantees that there can be a non-state sector that is not that of big North American companies," he told state television. Continuación...