HAVANA (AP) -- Hundreds of young leftists from around the globe roared their approval Saturday night as a mock trial declared the United States guilty of causing most of the ills in their countries.
The mock trial -- and the gathering in general -- was seen as a chance for the Cuban government to criticize the U.S. government and at the three-decade embargo it blames for its economic woes.
"We condemn imperialism .... and the United States in particular,'' the tribunal declared after hearing two days of testimony from young people who complained of the U.S. embargo, its 1989 military invasion of Panama and its bombing campaigns in Iraq during the Gulf War.
The tribunal was billed as a key event of the communist-sponsored 14th World Festival and Conference of Youth and Students, a weeklong conference that ends Tuesday.
U.S. officials earlier had criticized the tribunal, saying that its judgments were sure to be a "foregone conclusion.''
Some U.S. officials have interpreted Cuba's hosting of the event as a bid by Castro's government to gain international support and legitimize its continued commitment to communism.
Organizers claimed more than 11,000 people from 130 countries traveled to Cuba for the gathering, including more than 800 Americans who defied U.S. government restrictions to attend.
Festival organizers showed a short film that featured old footage of the late revolutionary Ernesto "Che'' Guevara and other leftists dating back to the 1960s and 1970s -- South African leader Nelson Mandela, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, the late black activist Martin Luther King Jr.
Later, four Cuban generals told of their personal experiences with Guevara during the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959.
The festival is dedicated to Guevara, who was killed by the Bolivian army 30 years ago this October. Festival participants are fascinated with the revolutionary and have been snapping up Che T-shirts, posters, books and other memorabilia.