Skip to comments.Cuba (Castro) Turns on 'Diabolical' Mexican Foreign Minister
Posted on 03/26/2002 11:39:47 PM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
HAVANA (Reuters) - Still smarting at a perceived snub during a U.N. summit last week, Cuba criticized Tuesday on Mexico's "diabolical" and "Machiavellian" foreign minister as the man responsible for President Fidel Castro's walkout.
A blistering statement by the ruling Communist Party blamed the Mexican minister, Jorge Castaneda, for pressuring Castro to stay away from the Monterrey meeting to avoid a politically awkward crossing with President Bush.
"The man guilty for what happened in Monterrey is called Jorge Castaneda," said a red-letter, front-page banner headline above the statement in the party's official newspaper Granma. Castro normally writes such statements.
"Mexico's extremely strange policy over the incident has a diabolical and cynical architect -- Jorge Castaneda," it added of the former communist who is now a member of President Vicente Fox's right-leaning Mexican government.
Castro eventually attended the development summit, but, after a typically fiery, anti-capitalist speech, created a diplomatic flurry with a dramatic walkout. He returned to Cuba alluding to a "special situation" created by his presence in Monterrey.
Cuban officials later alleged Castro was pressured by Mexico, on behalf of the United States, first not to attend, then to leave before the arrival of Bush, whom they said was threatening to boycott the summit if Castro was there.
In fact, their motorcades reportedly passed as Castro left while Bush arrived at Monterrey.
Despite four decades of unremitting hostilities between the Cold War foes, Castro crossed paths with then President George Bush at a 1992 meeting, and even shook hands with then President Bill Clinton at a 2000 U.N. meeting in New York.
At Monterrey, George W. Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox and Castaneda all denied Castro was pressured to leave.
Tuesday's statement said Cuba had "irrefutable proof" of the alleged pressures, but it was holding back to minimize damage to ties with Mexico. Even so, Havana's relations with its erstwhile strongest ally in Latin America -- Mexico was the only nation to keep ties with Cuba after the 1959 revolution -- are at their worst point in years.
Havana's communique said the "dishonest and intriguing" Castaneda "humiliated" Cuba at Monterrey with his "arrogance and shadowy influence," then "blatantly lied" about events.
It also lambasted the minister for allegedly conspiring with the State Department for Mexico and Argentina to sponsor a resolution censuring Cuba at the U.N. Human Rights' Commission meeting this month in Geneva.
Castaneda was also the mastermind of "other Machiavellian plans," including a meeting in Havana between himself and anti-Castro Cuban dissidents, which Fox briefly attended during his visit to the Caribbean island last month.
"Castaneda did not stop there, however, in his maneuvers and provocations," the statement added, saying he gave Fox a list of jailed Cuban dissidents to press for their release.
"The list of so-called 'political prisoners' in jail for their counterrevolutionary activities ... responds to an old trick by the U.S. government with any Western politician who visits Cuba, with the aim of annoying and upsetting meetings between mutual friends and the Cuban leadership."
Carefully avoiding criticism of Fox himself, the statement also attacked Castaneda for his contacts with anti-Castro Cuban Americans, including a recent visit to Miami.
"Why such slavering and cringing words to a group of Mafia and terrorists? Why should Cuba tolerate it? ... For the honor of Mexico, such offenses and aggressions toward the Cuban people must stop," it said.
Although bursting into the open on Tuesday, Cuba's row with Castaneda had been building up for several years since he published a critical biography of revolutionary hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara -- an untouchable in Cuba's political pantheon.
Then, during Fox's election campaign and as foreign minister, he has spearheaded Mexico's new line on Cuba of speaking up on human rights' issues and criticizing the one-party political system Castro has kept for four decades.
Some of Castaneda's comments in Miami, broadcast in part into Cuba by anti-Castro station Radio Marti, last month sparked a rush by asylum-seekers on the Mexican Embassy which saw 21 people break in with a hijacked bus in the worst outbreak of violence in Cuba since 1994.
Havana embassy incident should not cow Mexico****But there are hopeful signs that Fox and Castañeda will not be cowed into shelving their pro-democracy foreign policy. Perhaps, Castañeda's initial statements that the crisis had been instigated by U.S.-financed Radio Martí and radical Miami exile groups was a defensive move -- granted, somewhat cynical -- to avoid picking a fight with Cuba on an issue in which Cuba had a clear advantage to affect events on the ground. ****
MEXICAN MINISTER SHUFFLES TO THE RIGHT- Some quotes: "He's also taken a different a different tack on Mexico's relations with Cuba. A long time Cuban ally, Mexico has traditionally abstained from votes to censure Cuba's human rights record. But while Mexico abstained from the vote last April, during the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Castaneda blasted Cuba's record on human rights. He drew praise from some - and ire from old friends in Havana. Castaneda eventually met with Helms, a one time critic, to iron out issues raised by Mexican abstention. For the last seven, eight years, his democratic credentials are indisputable. He was one of the first leftist intellectuals who began to call Cuba what it is, said Oppenheimer, best speech I've heard from any foreign minister on Cuba but I would like him to follow through on that."- The Latino Reporter Story by David Cisneros (June 21, 2001)
Mexico official fired over rights policy e-mail - Cuba****A Mexican official was fired from his job for failing to stress President Vicente Fox's commitment to human rights in Cuba in an e-mail exchange with a Miami businessman who had written to complain about Mexico's handling of the Feb. 27 occupation of the Mexican Embassy in Havana, Mexican officials said Wednesday. ****
Houston Chronicle - (March 27, 2002) CARTER TO CUBA:Will there be time for a real agenda for Castro?
[Full Text] Former President Jimmy Carter has said he will visit Cuba sometime this year at the invitation of Fidel Castro.
The visit would make Carter the first former American president to visit the island since Castro took power in 1959.
"He doesn't have an agenda planned at this time," said a Carter spokesperson in Atlanta. "He's just looking forward to the visit."
Since that's the case and the Bush administration apparently won't oppose the visit, maybe we could suggest an agenda.
Carter could ask to meet with human rights activists who struggle with the Castro regime. Of course, he could find many of them conveniently convened for his arrival -- in Cuban prisons.
Perhaps he could inquire of the tens of thousands of Cubans murdered by Castro's infamous firing squads, the more than half a million who suffered for their beliefs in Cuban political dungeons, and the untold numbers who have died trying to cross the Florida Straits in pursuit of freedoms that Mr. Carter's host denies.
And since the world is focused on terrorism at the moment, perhaps Carter could ask Castro why terrorist groups and narco-traffickers, from Latin America to the Middle East, have been given haven, training, financing, and logistical and intelligence support from the Cuban regime.
Maybe there will even be opportunity to discuss these issues in depth -- between the smiles, the handshakes, the photo opportunities and the complaints about the United States. [End]
Freedom Advocacy--Promoting freedom and human rights around the world, beginning with Cuba.
janet-bone-in-her-nose-reno should go with him---permanently!
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