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CASTRO STRESSES ONGOING PLEDGE TO COMMUNISM

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Cuban leader Fidel Castro told hundreds of thousands of followers at an annual revolutionary rally that with or without the Soviet Union, Cuba will continue its communist fight as the last enemy of the United States.

In his address Thursday to mark the 37th anniversary of the launch of the Cuban revolution, Castro indicated that he still has no intentions of holding elections or moving toward a capitalist-style economy."Now that the Soviet Union is no longer the enemy of the U.S. empire, we are the enemy of the empire," Castro said. "We are the only enemy left . . . and they are focusing all their propaganda and strength against Cuba."

Castro, who on July 26, 1953, launched his armed struggle against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, told the crowd at the Jose Marti Revolution Plaza that Cuba will hold out despite the fall of communist governments in Eastern Europe.

"Our reaction will be to struggle, struggle, and struggle to resist. As I have said before, if the Soviet Union were to disappear, we would continue to build socialism in our country."

Castro acknowledged that the Soviet Union's economic hardships, coupled with the changes in Eastern Europe and U.S. pressure, is making things difficult for Cuba.

"I did not come here on this 37th anniversary to say everything is fine, that there is no risk involved, that we are not threatened by any problems. It is hard to admit that our extraordinary efforts to develop our country have coincided with the decline of the socialist bloc," Castro said.

The crowd stood in the heat for three hours listening to the 65-year-old leader, dressed in his customary olive green fatigues. They jumped up and down chanting, "Whoever doesn't jump is a Yankee!"

The ceremony was attended by a number of international left-wing groups, including former Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and other members of his Sandinista party, a delegation of Salvadoran rebels and members of Guatemala's rebel movement.

Castro addressed the issue of Cubans seeking asylum in Western embassies in Havana, challenging the United States and Europe to open their borders to Cubans who want to leave the island. "It is not us stopping them leaving the country, but they who will not let them in."

Earlier this year, human rights activists in Cuba who served prison terms for a variety of offenses against the one-party state, charged they were denied visas to enter the United States.