HAVANA (Reuters) - Convalescing Cuban leader Fidel Castro accused the United States on Monday of inspiring two Cuban military deserters who killed an officer during their failed attempt to hijack a plane to escape from Cuba.
In an editorial column, Castro said the pair were hoping to enjoy American consumer society and were encouraged by the prospect of impunity in the United States.
“The impunity and the material benefits that all acts of violence against Cuba have been rewarded with for almost half a century stimulates such deeds,” he wrote in the column distributed by the Cuban government.
Castro has not appeared in public since intestinal surgery forced him to hand over power to his brother Raul more than nine months ago. Since late March, he has taken to publishing his views in columns.
The 80-year-old leader said Cuba would need “serenity and cold blood” in deciding how to punish the recruits.
Three men who attempted to hijack a Havana ferry in 2003 with no loss of life were summarily executed by firing squad, leading to widespread international criticism of Cuba’s communist government.
Cuba’s main human rights group said the two recruits face the same fate and called on the international community on Monday to petition the Cuban government to spare their lives.
The fugitive recruits commandeered a bus with hostages on Thursday and burst into Havana airport where they seized an empty Boeing 737. A hostage, Army Lt. Col. Victor Ibo Acuna, was shot dead before the recruits were captured.
The deserters, 19 and 21, killed a soldier when they escaped from an army base with two AK-47 rifles ten days ago.
Castro said they had not been put on trial yet because they were both wounded in the hijack attempt. He said one recruit was shot by the other when he killed the officer who tried to stop the hijackers inside the plane.
“Now many people abroad are waiting to see the reaction of the law courts and the Council of State in the face of a deeply angered nation,” Castro wrote. “We need a big dose of serenity and cold blood to face such problems.”
Castro accused the U.S. government of protecting the enemies of Cuba from prosecution and pointed to the U.S. release last month on bail of Cuban exile and former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles, whom he called a “terrorist monster.”
Posada Carriles, who is accused of masterminding the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed all 73 people aboard, will go on trial in San Antonio, Texas, on Friday on immigration charges.