Castro takes jab at Bush's Spanish; says UN rights resolution toilet-worthy

President Fidel Castro took a jab at US President George Bush's Spanish, saying he misquoted Cuban independence hero and poet Jose Marti, and could do with a good Spanish teacher.

In remarks at a news roundtable late Wednesday the Cuban president also slammed a UN committee's resolution earlier this month which called on Cuba to ensure respect for civil liberties, saying "it's like walking through a toilet; in fact that would be a good place for it."

At last week's Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, Canada -- from which Cuba, with the only communist government in the Americas, was excluded as non-democratic -- Bush quoted Marti as having said "freedom is not negotiable."

But Castro said that phrase was never penned by Marti, and suggested it would be a good idea to send Bush a Marti scholar and some of Marti's books, such as "la Edad de Oro" (The Golden Age), and a Spanish teacher -- a poke at the foreign language capacity of the former Texas governor whom official
Cuban media have described as "mediocre."

Castro himself earlier had said he hoped Bush was not as "ignorant" as he seemed.

"It is great news indeed that Bush admires our apostle (Marti), who taught us to fight, and who was our first great teacher," Castro added.

The UN commission's resolution in Geneva fell short of an outright condemnation, but invited Cuba to respect human rights and stressed deep concern about continued repression and detention of dissidents.