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Castro To Obama: Change Cuba Policy

(AP Photo/HO, Juventud Rebelde)
Former Cuban President Fidel Castro is again using the Internet to let the White House know just what concerns Havana.

In an blog posting Wednesday evening, Castro raised a laundry list of Havana's grievances with Washington going back five decades.

Castro asked President Obama whether he is familiar with the damage caused by U.S. policy of germ and bacteriological warfare against the island's people, animals and plants among many other aggressions dating back decades. But the former Cuban leader was also quick to point out that he does not blame Obama for the "crimes" of his predecessors, many of them carried out either before Obama was born or when he was a child in Hawaii.

"On the contrary," writes the Castro, "being born of a Kenyan Muslim father and a white American Christian deserves special merit in the context of U.S. society and I am the first to recognize that".

But in the post on the Web site cubadebate.cu, Castro said he wants to know what the new American president plans to do about U.S. economic and trade embargo against Cuba as well as about a number of traditionally divisive issues between developed and developing countries, such as trade.

Castro, sidelined by illness 2½ years ago, expressed concern about the "Buy American" campaign launched by House Democrats, which he says runs counter to the basic principles of the World Trade Organization and the dreams of many poor and developing countries to get ahead through fair trade.

While raising potential and actual differences with Obama's policies, Castro insisted that he's doing it in a respectful and decent fashion and he chided those who present any criticism he raises against a public person as an "attack, accusation or other similar noun," which, he says, "reflects a lack of consideration and courtesy toward the person in question".

The 82-year-old, who officially resigned from the presidency a year ago this month, was referring to reactions to an earlier blog post in which he criticized Obama's support for Israel in the Gaza conflict and Obama's placing conditions on a possible U.S. withdrawal from the Guantanamo Naval Base.

In a still earlier blog post, Castro praised the new president as "honest," "intelligent," and "noble."

Many Cubans and Cuban-Americans are hoping the Obama administration will usher in an era of improved relations with the nation just 90 miles south of Florida. Obama has promised to lift the restrictions limiting Cuban-American travel to the island and remittances to relatives there.

But Obama has said he will maintain the trade embargo until Havana takes steps toward democratization. Still, various think tanks and business groups are urging the new president begin normalizing relations as the best way to exert influence on Cuba's domestic affairs.