TODAY.AZ / Politics

Castro slams new US "provocations" in diplo-row

21 January 2006 [13:29] - TODAY.AZ
The United States has launched a glaring new chapter in its diplomatic fight with Cuba: an electronic screen broadcasting messages on its diplomatic building's side in a move Cuba calls a provocation.

"I must analyze the provocations, the outlandish things (US authorities) are doing," President Fidel Castro pledged on state television.

AFP informs the electronic screen perched on the fifth floor level of the six-storey US Interests Section in Havana broadcasts in crimson letters more than a meter (three feet) high.

Last Monday and Tuesday it began broadcasting the UN Declaration of Human Rights, thoughts of US civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr and news, as stunned passersby watched on Havana's storied seafront.

The USIS said in a statement to AFP Monday that "it is here to stay. We are trying to provide the Cuban people uncensored information. The intention is to break the news embargo Cubans are subjected to."

The screen, however, was not turned on on Wednesday and Thursday.

Castro, 79, also charged the United States was "planning to break the migratory accords" reached with the US government of Bill Clinton in 1994. He did not elaborate.

But the accords -- under which Cubans trying to emigrate to the United States and who are picked up at sea by US authorities are repatriated to Cuba -- are a cornerstone of the neighbors' tense bilateral ties.

The new US lighting fixture is the latest chapter in US efforts to draw Cuban public attention to what the United States sees as human rights concerns in Cuba. The former top US diplomat in Cuba, James Cason, started the campaign in 2004, which has been expanded by his successor Michael Parmly, who took over at the USIS in September.

The United States and Cuba do not have full diplomatic relations, but maintain interest sections in the other's capital. Washington has had a full economic embargo on Havana since 1961.

Castro on December 23 called US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "mad" after having condemned the new head of the US diplomatic mission in Havana as a "little gangster".

Castro's tirade against the United States followed Rice's meeting last month with a US government commission intended to prepare for a democratic transition in Cuba after Castro.

"I am going to tell you what I think about this famous commission: they are a group of shit-eaters who do not deserve the world's respect," Castro told the Cuban parliament in blunter-than-usual language.

"In this context, it does not matter if it was the mad woman who talks of transition - it is a circus, they are completely depraved, they should be pitied," he added.

The attack followed Castro's comments a day earlier when he called Parmly a "little gangster" for criticizing the regime at a speech marking International Human Rights Day this month.

"The Cuban regime's hurling of angry and often violent groups against pro-democratic dissidents is particularly disgusting," Parmly said, adding that such actions recalled the Nazis.

URL: http://www.today.az/news/politics/22327.html

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