Fidel Castro
20 September 2015: Pope Francis and former Cuban president Fidel Castro hold hands in HavanaReuters

Fidel Castro is not one of those in favour of the USA's recent diplomatic reapproachment with communist Cuba.

"We don't need the empire to give us any gifts," wrote the country's former president in a scathing newspaper column, in response to Barack Obama's recent historic visit. Relations between the small Caribbean island nation and the world's last superpower are the best they've been in nearly a century, but Castro, 89, did not make an appearance during the visit.

Writing in the government-controlled Granma, the father of Cuba's revolution demonstrated that he wasn't quite ready to drop his Cold War resentment. He wrote: "Listening to the words of the US president could give anyone a heart attack. Nobody has any illusion that the people of this noble and selfless country will surrender glory and rights and the spiritual wealth that has come through the development of education, science and culture."

Obama's visit was the first by a sitting US president to the communist island in 88 years, and he used his time there to call for democracy and greater political freedom. Obama and the current Cuban President Raul Castro, Fidel's brother, are determined to improve relations between the two nations, since diplomatic channels were reopened in December 2014. Obama was attempting to prove to the Cuban people that half a century of American attempts to overthrow their government were at an end.

Fidel, however, seems to be having none of it. In a 1,500-word article, he combed through Obama's speech, and reminded his readers of the Bay of Pigs incident, when a CIA-sponsored paramilitary invasion force of Cuban exiles tried and failed to take over the island in 1961.

Obama called on his own Congress to lift the 54-year American trade embargo against Cuba, which is still in effect – and was met by loud applause. This embargo remains one of the major difficulties in US-Cuban relations, but Obama has no power to have it lifted on his own.