Skip to comments.Cuba Insists Bush Behind Hasty Castro Summit Exit
Posted on 03/23/2002 2:00:17 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
MONTERREY, Mexico (Reuters) - Cuba accused President Bush on Friday of threatening to boycott this week's U.N. aid summit in Mexico unless Cuban President Fidel Castro was made to leave, but Bush insisted he didn't pressure anybody.
Castro abandoned the summit meeting in Mexico's northern city of Monterrey on Thursday, shortly before Bush arrived, and a senior Cuban official said the communist leader was asked by Mexican officials to make himself scarce.
"We received very senior people from the Mexican government before the conference who indicated they had been subjected to U.S. government pressure, specifically threats from President Bush that he would not come to Monterrey if Fidel Castro came," said Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba's national assembly.
Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox, the summit host, both denied the allegations but the dispute threatened to end a recent easing in U.S.-Cuban tensions and hit Cuba's long-standing friendship with Mexico.
Asked at a joint news conference with Fox whether he would have felt uncomfortable meeting Castro, Bush responded that what made him uncomfortable about the Cuban leader was "the way he treats his people."
"I know of no pressure placed on anybody. Fidel Castro can do what he wants to do," he said.
Asked "who's lying here?" by a second reporter, a visibly annoyed Bush snapped: "I thought I answered that question."
Fox said of Castro: "He participated in the conference and returned to Cuba. Nothing more."
Alarcon, who took over as head of Cuba's summit delegation when Castro walked out on Thursday, said the veteran leader refused to stay away from the conference altogether but agreed to cut short his trip, leaving after his speech and before Bush arrived.
CUBA-MEXICO RELATIONSHIP STRAINED
Mexican officials "with great authority transmitted the message and specifically asked us, given they could not prevent Fidel from coming, that he leave immediately after lunch," Alarcon said.
Mexico has been a close ally of Castro's government since he took power in 1959 but relations have been strained in recent years as Mexico has moved closer economically and politically to the United States.
The latest dispute has largely overshadowed the summit meeting and some officials here have privately suggested that may have been Castro's intention all along.
"The presence of Fidel in the summit has been a highly important event, which in diplomatic terms means he stole the show," Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told Cuban state TV in a telephone interview from Monterrey.
Cuban state TV and radio have played Castro's speech over and over again, and a special two-part program on the "repercussions" of his presence in Monterrey was shown on Thursday and Friday evenings.
President Vicente Fox's government has offended Cuba by criticizing it over human rights and democracy issues.
The five-day U.N. development conference, attended by more than 50 heads of state in the final two days, ended late on Friday with rich and poor nations saying they had struck a new bargain to fight world poverty.
"We must tie greater aid to political and legal and economic reforms," Bush told the conference on Friday morning.
Castro ridiculed the rich world's efforts to fight poverty during his speech on Thursday, saying they were masters of a "genocidal" system that condemns billions to misery.
"The existing world economic order constitutes a system of plundering and exploitation like no other in history," he said.
Cuban President Fidel Castro speaks to the media as he prepares to leave the Monterrey UN summit on financing development March 21, 2002. The speaker of the Cuban National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon, said Castro left after a 'situation' arose which made his presence at the summit uncomfortable. Alarcon said he will continue in the role of delegation head throughout the rest of the summit. Photo by Juan Carlos Ulate/Reuters
(March 17, 2002)- Cuba's Castro Says Venezuelan Chavez Speaks for Him -[Excerpt] CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Cuban president Fidel Castro said (on) Sunday his friend and ally, president Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, could speak for him and his revolutionary ideas at a world development conference in Mexico this week. "Even if I don't go, we, I, feel represented in your words," Castro told Chavez in a telephone call during a marathon live broadcast of the Venezuelan leader's weekly "Hello President" television and radio program.
Castro and Chavez hailed their nations' strong political and economic ties, which have been criticized by the United States. Washington is the biggest single client for Venezuela's oil exports but keeps long-running trade sanctions on Cuba. "However much they attack us, we are creating a new model of integration," the Venezuelan president said.
Castro, who described himself as "an expert in putting up with attacks", urged Chavez to stand firm against criticism from his political enemies. "We've been under attack for 43 years and today the Revolution is stronger than ever," Castro said, referring to U.S. hostility against Havana since the 1959 Cuban Revolution.
The two leaders ended their on-air chat with the revolutionary slogan "Always onwards until victory". Chavez also used the "Hello President" program to warn his opponents that he was losing patience with their continuing efforts to stir up opposition to his three-year-old rule through political conspiracies and talk of coup plots.
"If you carry on with this, I'm going to be waiting for you and I'll expose you to the Venezuelan people," he said, adding his foes included political figures, media owners and bankers. [End Excerpt]
As if the Castro government did not pressure Clinton and Reno to bring ELIAN 'home.'
Good Point! On a daily basis, Castro made thousands of Cubans march and stand for hours, listening to him rail at the evil U.S.
Too bad George W. Bush wasn't president then. If he had been, Elian would be living free in the U.S. today.
Bush isn't going to take any guff from this old dictator.
LOL. Sounds more like a rat running for cover.
What a blatant display of disrespect by this reporter. Any idea who it was?
He never should have been left alone. It's time to give him a lot of supervision.
No, but I bet someone sure does.
I'd like to see the Cuban Air Force (who took almost an hour and a half to shoot down a Cessna) take on even a small Air National Guard unit from the States - much less a carrier battle group. If the US were interested in building an "empire" as the world press insists, I don't think that these starving commies would still be there. Actually, I can't understand why we have allowed this zit to stay on our butt for so long.
Come the revolution he'll have plenty, in GITMO.
I wonder if the reporter would have asked the same question of Castro.
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