Cuba's President Denounces US Provocation
Cuba's Castro calls for protest at U.S. mission
January 23, 2006
By Marc Frank
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban President Fidel Castro accused the United States on Sunday of trying to torpedo relations and harboring Cuban-born terrorists, then called a protest in front of the U.S. diplomatic mission for Tuesday.
Castro, in a three-hour televised appearance, charged that a huge electronic ticker tape mounted across the fifth floor of the U.S. diplomatic mission in downtown Havana aimed to end minimal relations under which each country maintains Interests Sections in the other's capital.
Cuba's President Fidel Castro gestures during a live television broadcast in Havana January 21, 2006. Castro accused the United States on Sunday of trying to torpedo relations and harboring Cuban-born terrorists, then called a protest in front of the U.S. diplomatic mission for Tuesday.
The two countries, bitter foes since Castro came to power in a 1959 revolution, do not have formal diplomatic relations and the United States has maintained a trade embargo against the Communist-run nation since 1962.
"The U.S. government ... is deliberately trying to force a rupture in the actual diplomatic relations," Castro charged.
"The gross provocation by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana can have no other purpose. ... They know no government in the world could allow it," he said, noting his government's diplomatic protests had been ignored.
For a week the ticker tape has flashed human rights messages and calls for democracy by various personalities, including leaders of east-European revolts against Communism such as former Polish President Lech Walesa and Czech leader Vaclav Havel, along with news, in nine-foot high crimson letters.
Cuba purchases around $400 million worth of food for cash each year from the United States under a 2000 amendment to the trade embargo.
Castro said he was taking measures to insure food supplies were not interrupted, without explaining further.
Castro also charged a Tuesday immigration hearing for Cuban-born (Luis) Posada Carriles was aimed at granting him conditional parole.
Posada, 77, has been held by the United States since May for illegally crossing the border into Texas from Mexico.
Posada is wanted by Cuba and Venezuela, where he is a citizen, for a string of bombings and other attacks against Cuban targets, including the blowing up of a Cuban commercial airliner in 1976, killing all 73 people aboard, and bombings of Cuban hotels and night spots in the late 1990s.
The United States has said Posada will not be extradited to either country and has refused to charge him with any other crimes.
"On January 24, when the status of the ferocious terrorist will be reviewed, the people of the capital will march with all their exemplary revolutionary discipline and unity in front of the interests Section of the fraudulent and bastardly government of George W. Bush," Castro said.