FEBRUARY 1998 - Web-Posted 3/22/98

Min. Farrakhan visits Cuba, Bermuda

CUBA

by Askia Muhammad
Washington Bureau Chief

MIn. Farrakhan with President Fidel CastroHAVANA-Despite American claims to the contrary, it is unlikely that Iraq has any supply of chemical or biological weapons, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and senior members of his delegation were told Feb. 17 by Cuban President Fidel Castro during the 35th stop on the historic World Friendship Tour III.

"Inventing the weapons is not a big deal anymore," said a delegation member who attended the three-and-a-half hour session with the Cuban president.

"Any country could have (chemical weapons). It's not a secret weapon any more," the source said.

"The problem is: How do you store them? How do you transfer them? How do you deliver them? This is the problem. Iraq does not have that" capability, President Castro told the Nation of Islam leader.

Both world leaders discussed letters they had each sent to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, warning him of the danger his country faces if the United States is able to justify its lust to bomb and destroy Baghdad and more of Iraqi infrastructure-roads, hospitals, water supply, sewers, and electrical generators.

President Castro, the source continued, "knew a great deal about the amount of destruction" already inflicted on Iraq during the Gulf War, and the effect of seven years of sanctions imposed since the war ended.

For his part, Min. Farrakhan pledged to raise his voice against forces beating the drum for war against Iraq in the U.S., and against the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba. "Cuba is 90 miles from America, she's not bothering America, why would you blockade her?" the Minister said later to an audience in Bermuda. The Nation of Islam leader also advised U.S. leaders to make their country a better example of the type of "neighbor" they insist that Iraq become.

"Why would you refuse (Cuba) food and medicine, and stop people from trading with her, simply because she exercises the right of self-determination and decided to be a Communist country? Is that any business of yours?

"America, you can be a better neighbor. You can show Saddam Hussein how to be a good neighbor, by being a better neighbor yourself," he said, citing the U.S. invasions of Panama and Grenada as examples of un-neighborly acts.

In addition to Min. Farrakhan's meeting with President Castro, he visited a school for the Performing Arts where he offered words of inspiration to young violin students in Havana; and spoke at Universidad de Oriente in historic Santiago de Cuba.

"Remember, you picked up the violin. It did not pick you up," said Min. Farrakhan to the music students, sharing with them a mental tip on how to "master" their instrument, and how to not let the instrument master the musician.

Speaking to young Cuban intellectuals and professionals in what was once known as "Oriente Province" in the Sierra Maestra Mountains in Eastern Cuba where Mr. Castro's revolution was launched, Min. Farrakhan urged them to hold on to the principles of their revolution, which has brought universal education and nearly 100 percent literacy, and universal, free health care to the mostly poor population.

The Minister also laid wreaths at the tombs of Jose Marti and Antonio Maceo, the "fathers of the Cuban revolution" and visited the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba where Mr. Castro was once imprisoned after launching his revolution on July 26, 1957. At the press conference Min. Farrakhan applauded the recently-concluded visit to the island by Pope John Paul II, and the Pope's call for an end to the U.S. blockade and trade sanctions against Cuba.

The Nation of Islam is grateful to Cubans for the lessons in struggle and heroism they have taught the world, Min. Farrakhan added.

In his second visit to Cuba-the first was after his first World Tour in 1996-Min. Farrakhan said he supports legislation before the U.S. Congress proposed by Reps. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Esteban Torres (D-Calif.) to authorize the sale of food and medicine to Cuba.

Later that evening, when the chartered airplane carrying Min. Farrakhan and his delegation from Cuba touched down in a rainstorm in the capital of Bermuda, a "self-governing British dependency" Feb. 18, a crowd had already gathered at the National Sports Stadium.

Despite the driving wind and rain, the crowd grew to 5,000 as the Muslim leader's motorcade hastened along the dark, slick, winding, hillside roads, then erupted in cheers when the vehicles entered the muddy field, and the Minister sprung onto the stage. "As-Salaam-Alaikum (Peace be unto you)," Min. Farrakhan said.

"Wa-Alaikum-Salaam (And unto you be peace)," the crowd roared in response.

At that moment, the clouds seemed to open up again, and a downpour deluged the crowd. Not one person left his seat. Not one of the thousands of umbrellas sheltering the eager audience even budged.

It was a moving "homecoming" sight because Bermuda, 580 miles from the coast of North Carolina, is special to the Minister. Sister Sumayah Farrakhan (May Allah be Pleased with her), the Minister's mother, was born on Bermuda. On May 11, 1936 Min. Farrakhan celebrated his third birthday on Bermuda, and he still has vivid memories of that joyous day, in that place, in his childhood.

And despite the fact that his father was killed by a construction crane on that island-a crane that is still standing-for many, many years there was a travel ban against the Muslim leader visiting Bermuda.

"I want you to know," Min. Farrakhan told the Bermuda audience, after thanking them for waiting for him and then listening to him in a downpour, "I am not a hater of white people. I am not an anti-Semite."

The Nation of Islam leader also expressed profound appreciation to Byron Muhammad, a Nation of Islam minister and follower of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, for his tireless efforts in having the travel ban lifted, and for organizing the "homecoming" rally in Bermuda.

"I'm not anti-Catholic. I'm not anti-white, or anti-gay," the Muslim leader continued. "I'm anti-what God Himself is against. He's against evil. He's against injustice.

"White color didn't put us in bad shape," Min. Farrakhan said, discussing his misunderstood views regarding race. "It's a sick mind in a color that put us in bad shape," he said, also pointing out that when Blacks prey upon one another it's because a sick mind in a Black body is causing suffering.

Bermuda is unique among modern West Indian nations, with a low unemployment rate of six percent, and a high standard of living: $28,000 per capita income.

Situated in the Atlantic Ocean with a 60 percent Black population, Bermuda is still governed by the predominantly-white United Bermuda Party. In 1940 several sites on the archipelago of small islands that make up the nation were leased for 99-years to the U.S. for air and naval bases.

In 1968 the country was granted a new constitution by the British, which permitted autonomy except for foreign relations, defense and internal security. Bermuda is also the headquarters of the West Indies and Atlantic Squadron of the Royal Navy.

Photo:Hon. Minister Louis Farrakhan, President Fidel Castro.

Related Site: Radio Havana

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