Thursday, February 23, 2017

Cuba says it foiled plot to destabilize country, slams dissidents and OAS

Cuba says it foiled plot to destabilize country, slams dissidents and OAS
By Sarah Marsh and Nelson Acosta | HAVANA

Communist-ruled Cuba on Wednesday said it had foiled a serious plot
aiming to destabilize the country by preventing the chief of the
Organization of American States traveling to the island to attend an
award ceremony organized by dissidents.

The opposition group, which the government called "anti-Cuban and
illegal," had invited OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro to Havana to
honor him for shining a light on violations of human rights in the Americas.

Cuba, which views the Washington-based OAS as an imperialist instrument
of the United States despite its fledgling detente with its Cold War
foe, denied Almagro and other international invitees visas and issued a
blistering statement.

The incident comes at an awkward time as U.S. President Donald Trump
considers whether to continue normalizing relations with the Caribbean

"The plan ... consisted of mounting in Havana an open and serious
provocation against the Cuban government, generating internal
instability, damaging the country's international reputation," the
statement by the foreign ministry read.

The ministry accused Almagro of "an ambition agenda of auto promotion
with attacks against progressive governments like those of Venezuela,
Bolivia and Ecuador."

In a letter to the dissidents, Almagro said he had assured the Cuban
authorities he did not have an anti-Cuban agenda.

The OAS's only interest was to "help move Cuba closer to the values and
principles upheld by the organization in relation to democracy and human
rights," he said.

Cuba had earlier prevented other international invitees, including a
former Chilean minister and an ex-president of Mexico, from traveling to
Cuba to attend the award ceremony, stoking tensions across Latin America.

Chile said it was recalling its ambassador to Cuba for consultation
while Mexico's foreign ministry said on its Twitter account that it
"regretted" Cuba's decision.

The Cuban foreign ministry defended its move as "impeccable act of
transparency," saying it had contacted the countries from which invitees
were traveling to inform them of the plot, hoping they could be
dissuaded from traveling.

"There was no lack of declarations by defenders of the false persecuted,
allies of past dictatorships and unemployed politicians willing to ally
themselves with vulgar mercenaries in the service of foreign interests,"
the ministry said.

The dissident group that had organized the award ceremony is led by the
daughter of late democracy activist Oswaldo Paya, who died in a 2012 car
accident. Rosa Maria Paya accuses the Cuban government of causing the
crash, a charge it denies.

Paya went ahead with the ceremony on Wednesday in the Paya family home
in Havana as planned, although she said she would keep his prize until
he could pick it up in person.

That looks unlikely to happen soon. In its statement on the events, Cuba
denounced a recent neo-liberal, imperialist offensive against certain
Latin American countries that had plunged millions back into poverty.

"Where has the OAS been, that has always kept a complicit silence facing
these realities?" the ministry asked, reiterating that Cuba would never
rejoin the organization.

Fidel Castro, a leading Cold War figure who built a communist state on
the doorstep of the United States and defied U.S. attempts to topple
him, died in November at the age of 90, eight years after handing the
presidency over to his younger brother, Raul.

(Additional Reporting by Lesley Wroughton in Washington; Editing by Nick

Source: Cuba says it foiled plot to destabilize country, slams
dissidents and OAS | Reuters -

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