Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fidel Castro calls detention of Venezuelan official in New York a 'vulgar provocation'

International Herald Tribune

The Associated Press

Published: September 24, 2006

HAVANA Fidel Castro, in his role as president of the Nonaligned Movement, decried the detention of Venezuela's foreign minister at a New York airport, calling it a "vulgar provocation."

A statement issued late Saturday said the Cuban leader reacted "with indignation" upon hearing that Nicolas Maduro was detained for 90 minutes at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He said the incident was an "unacceptable violation" of international norms regarding diplomats.

Castro "extends his most vigorous protest of this vulgar provocation, which could take place again against any member of the Movement," the statement said.

The Venezuelan official was detained Saturday while attempting to fly home to Caracas via Miami. He accused airport officials of treating him abusively by trying to frisk and handcuff him and ordering him to be strip-searched, which he refused.

U.S. officials called Saturday's incident regrettable and said they had apologized to Maduro. Maduro called that insufficient and said Venezuela would seek a legal challenge through the United Nations to what he called a "flagrant violation of international law" and his diplomatic immunity.

Cuba took over the leadership of the Nonaligned Movement Sept. 15. Its 118 members comprise two-thirds of the world's nations, most of which are developing countries. Castro, recovering from intestinal surgery, did not attend the movement's summit in Havana this month but received several world leaders in private meetings.

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