Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who could meet up with President Clinton in Geneva Monday, on Thursday accused the United States of trying to use genocide to make his country bend to its will.
In a speech to the U.N. World Health Organization, he hit out fiercely against economic globalization and "blind" market policies that were destroying the planet's ecology and creating mass poverty.He also held up the social security system under the communist rule he has established on the island since he came to power in 1959 as an example for the world.
Cuba had a very low level of infant mortality, more doctors per capita than any other country, and since 1983 an average life expectancy of 75 - a target the WHO has set for all its 191 members for the year 2000.
"(All this) in spite of the cruel blockade we have been suffering for nearly 40 years, in spite of being a poor country of the Third World," he declared.
"The effort to carry out genocide against our people made us multiply our efforts and our desire to survive," he told other senior leaders and ministers from WHO countries, referring to the 36-year U.S. ban on links with Cuba.
"The world can also struggle and emerge victorious."
Clinton is to make a three-hour visit to Geneva on Monday evening to address a special meeting of the World Trade Organization.
Castro, who has recently signaled appreciation of a slight easing of restrictions on contacts with Havana authorized by the U.S. leader, said in Geneva on Wednesday he would have nothing against a meeting of the two.
But U.S. and other diplomats exclude this. A senior U.S. official said in Washington that the embargo would stay until there were fundamental changes bringing democracy to Cuba.