By Stephen Gibbs
BBC correspondent in Havana
Cuban President Fidel Castro has defended his decision to imprison 75 dissidents and summarily execute three hijackers over the last month.
Hijacking over, executions soon followed
The actions have been condemned by governments and human rights groups around the world.
Mr Castro said he was acting to prevent an attempt by US President George W Bush to provoke a war with Cuba.
In a defiant three-and-a-half hour speech, The cuban president gave his first full response to the extraordinary events here over the last five weeks.
Everything was blamed on the United States.
America, he said, was trying to destabilise Cuba, to provide an excuse for military intervention.
The 75 dissidents that have recently been imprisoned here he describes as mercenaries in the pay of the enemy.
President Castro also said that the spate of recent hijackings in Cuba was all part of a sinister attempt by the US to encourage a mass exodus.
The hijacking eventually ended with no one hurt
Much of his speech was spent defending the decision to execute three hijackers who attempted to take a ferry boat to Florida earlier this month.
That ended a three-year moratorium on capital punishment in Cuba and prompted an outpouring of world criticism.
He said it was a decision he would take again.
He said the alternative might be war with his northern neighbour, and in that case, millions of Cubans would die.