Cuban leader Fidel Castro says his island nation will defend itself to the last drop of blood against any U.S. efforts to change the Cuban socialist system.
The 77-year-old leader made his declaration at a May Day celebration Saturday in Havana's Revolution Square. He was cheered by a crowd estimated by the government at one million people, many of whom wore red tee shirts and waved Cuban flags.
In his two-hour speech, Mr. Castro denounced a recent United Nations Human Rights Commission vote critical of the jailing of 75 Cuban dissidents for terms of as long as 28 years. He compared the arrests to the detentions of more than 600 suspected al Qaida militants at the nearby U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay.
Mr. Castro's remarks came as President Bush awaits the recommendations of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, appointed last December. The group is charged with recommending ways to speed up a post-Castro transition to democracy on the island. The commission was due to present its report Saturday.
The Commission chairmen are Secretary of State Colin Powell and U.S. Housing Secretary Mel Martinez.