In 1959, Mr Castro, and his late elder brother Fidel Castro led rebel fighters to overthrow a US-backed dictator and established a Communist country a stone’s throw away from the United States at the height of the Cold War.
The Cuban Revolution ignited other leftist movements across Latin America for decades to come, but the 60th anniversary comes at a time when the Latin American region has begun to rapidly shift rightwards with far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s inauguration the latest sign of that.
Currently, Venezuela and Nicaragua—both considered to be Cuba’s closest allies—are embroiled in political crises, and Mr Trump has sought to toughen the embargo on Cuba after former President Barack Obama made efforts to normalise relations with the island nation.
“Once again, the North American government is taking on the path of confrontation with Cuba,” Mr Castro said in a speech, held in Santiago de Cuba, where his late brother proclaimed victory 60 years ago.
“Increasingly, high-ranking officials of this administration are [...] trying to blame Cuba for all the region’s ills,” Mr Castro added, citing that they stemmed instead from “ruthless neoliberal policies”.
In November 2018, Mr Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said the administration will take a rougher approach against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, while calling them a “troika of tyranny.
Cuba’s true battle this year was an economic one, Mr Castro said, reiterating comments made at the national assembly in late December by his successor, President Miguel Diaz-Canel.
“We need first of all to reduce all non-necessary expenses and to save more,” Mr Castro added.
When president, Mr Castro introduced a series of reforms to boost and free-up the economy, yet it remains heavily state-dominated.