Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Cuba Launches Verbal Assault on Top US Diplomat

Tue Dec 20, 2005 9:51 PM ET

By Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba launched a blistering verbal attack on the top U.S. diplomat in Havana on Tuesday and on dissidents it accused him of organizing to overthrow the government.

A daily state-run television talk show dedicated its 90- minute broadcast to accusing U.S. mission chief Michael Parmly, who arrived in the country in September, of being the new point man for the Bush administration's declared goal of ousting President Fidel Castro from power.

"Michael Parmly has quickly begun to carry out his job as the ruthless guardian and springboard of the anti-Cuba Bush policy, having frequent contacts with his mercenaries, guiding them, supplying them and exhibiting them to the press," program moderator Randy Alonso said.

The United States and Cuba, bitter foes since President Fidel Castro led a revolution to power in 1959, do not have diplomatic relations but maintain lower-level Interests Sections in each others capitals.

The Cuban government labels all opponents as charlatans in the employ of the United States and on Tuesday various official journalists accused them of receiving support from a foreign power, a crime under Cuban law.

Parmly succeeded James Cason, now U.S. ambassador to Paraguay, whose confrontational style and open support for dissidents was given as the reason for the imprisonment of 75 dissidents two year ago on charges of working with Washington to overthrow the government.

The show, called the round table, features local journalists and officials presenting the government's positions on various topics. It will also dedicate Wednesday's broadcast to Parmly and the dissidents.

On Tuesday, four journalists took turns detailing Parmly's and other U.S. diplomats' meetings with dissidents and in some cases the computers, televisions, copy machines, cameras and other items given to specific individuals.

"They are the same pig with different suits" said journalist Arlene Rodriguez of Cason and Parmly, the latter considered by other diplomats as far more diplomatic than the former.

"The pig is Bush's policy and they are the suits," she said.

The journalists also criticized Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's decision this week to form an inter-agency group to recommend measures to tighten the
four-decades-old trade embargo and increase aid to dissidents in order to speed a transition to democracy in Cuba.

Lazaro Barrero, editor of the Communist Party daily, Granma, charged talk of transition was a cover for "using mercenaries to provoke a situation justifying invasion and occupation of the country."

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

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