Castro admits to discontent in Cuba

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The Independent Online
BOGOTA (Reuter) - Cuba's President Fidel Castro has conceded that part of his island's population is unhappy but says the 'immense majority' of people are solidly behind him and his government despite recent unrest.

Mr Castro was questioned on his arrival at Bogota airport for the inauguration yesterday of Colombia's President Ernesto Samper yesterday, about clashes on Friday between stone-throwing protesters and police in Havana. The incidents were described as the most serious protests against Mr Castro's Communist government since the 1959 revolution that brought him to power.

Havana appeared calm at the weekend after the disturbances in one district of the capital. 'We are not happy with the difficulties and we fight against them and we make progress but we really are going through a difficult moment and it's true that there is what you are calling dissatisfaction, discontent in a part of the population,' Mr Castro said.

'But we must also take into account an immense patriotism in the immense majority of the population which understands the causes of the problems which we have and which is firm in its defence of the fatherland, the revolution and socialism.'

Mr Castro, who toured the scene of the trouble late on Friday, appeared on state television for more than an hour that evening and furiously attacked the United States as being the cause of the disturbances.

'Either they (the United States) take serious measures to guard their coasts or we will stop putting obstacles in the way of people who want to leave the country and we will stop putting obstacles in the way of people (in the United States) who want to come and look for their relations here,' he said.