Cuban President Fidel Castro, one of the world's last communist leaders, predicted Friday that capitalism was doomed to extinction within the next 100 years.
"That system is condemned by history," Castro told an enthusiastically partisan audience of nearly 3,000 delegates at an international women's solidarity meeting in Havana.In a more than four-hour speech lasting into the early hours of Friday, Castro lambasted capitalism as an inhuman model that put the pursuit of money above spiritual and social needs.
"What does imperialism devour? What does developed capitalism devour? What does neoliberalism devour? Human flesh and human spirits," he added. "A system like that cannot last for 100 years, possibly it cannot last even 50 years more."
Castro also condemned the world loan bodies, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as being the "economy and finance ministry of Yankee imperialism."
Speaking slowly, but looking confident and at ease, the 71-year-old Cuban leader, dressed in his trademark olive-green military fatigues, repeated a range of familiar views on international topics such as the role of the United Nations and the plight of Latin America's disappeared.
He did not, however, touch on Cuba's internal situation.
Castro's words drew an ecstatic reception from the women delegates from 79 countries, many of whom represented left-wing movements throughout Latin America.
The women cheered, waved banners and gave Castro various standing ovations. "Fidel, I love you!" shouted one, prompting the Cuban leader to laugh and make a sweeping gesture from his heart to the audience.
Although Castro is contemptuous of capitalist countries, he still welcomes their money.
Despite Cuba's being shunned by its biggest potential market, the United States, tourism in Cuba is booming thanks to budget-hunting Europeans.
According to the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Cuba reported a 15 percent increase in non-cruise tourists in 1997, and ranked fourth in the Caribbean in total non-cruise tourists, with 1.15 million visitors.