Cuba FM blames US media, pols for Libya violence

AP News
Posted: Feb 23, 2011 3:49 PM
Cuba FM blames US media, pols for Libya violence

Cuba's top diplomat accused U.S. media outlets and politicians Wednesday of "inciting violence" in Libya, where forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi have launched a bloody crackdown on protesters that has killed hundreds.

The statement by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez is the first formal sign that the island's government shares a view expressed by revolutionary leader Fidel Castro about Gadhafi, a longtime ally.

Castro stepped down as president in 2006, but he continues to publish essays on international affairs from semiretirement and remains head of the Communist Party. Fidel's brother Raul now runs the country.

In a statement sent to foreign media, Rodriguez declined to criticize Libya's response to the uprising, saying reports out of the North African country are confusing and contradictory.

"Some North American politicians and media groups are inciting violence, military aggression and foreign intervention," Rodriguez said, without elaborating.

Rodriguez said he hoped for a peaceful solution to the conflict, but added that it must come "without any type of meddling or international intervention, and in a manner that guarantees the integrity of the Libyan nation."

In a column published Tuesday by Cuban state media, Fidel Castro accused NATO of planning to take advantage of the upheaval by invading Libya.

"The government of the United States is not concerned at all about peace in Libya and it will not hesitate to give NATO the order to invade that rich country, perhaps in a question of hours or very short days," Castro wrote.

He offered lukewarm support for Gadhafi, saying more time was needed to assess what was going on in Libya.

Witnesses and human rights groups say Gadhafi's forces have fired on unarmed protesters with machine guns and other heavy weapons. Human Rights Watch says at least 300 people have died, and Italy's foreign minister said other "credible" reports put the death toll at 1,000.

Gadhafi vowed Tuesday night to fight to his "last drop of blood."