There is no need to burn papers: Cuba's answer to US claims of diplomatic 'harrassment'

Campaign News | Thursday, 15 June 2006

Washington is making up stories to create a crisis, says Granma daily newsaper

This editorial appeared in Cuba's Granma Daily Newspaper on 13 June.

Yesterday, June 12, a rabid lapdog of the empire and the terrorist mafia in Miami, El Nuevo Herald, published an article titled, "U.S. Interests Section in Havana Under Siege," in which it accuses the Cuban government of cutting off electricity and water supplies to that office as a response to what it describes as "a deepening of the diplomatic crisis," that began when "the electronic billboard was installed on the facade of the Interests Section."

According to the article, "the United States Interests Section in Havana had given instructions on Friday to its personnel to begin destroying all non-essential documents," and it adds this suspicious conclusion: "The sources who offered this information to El Nuevo Herald consider the destruction of documents in the U.S. diplomatic offices in Havana to be the prelude to an evacuation, or as a minimum, a preparation for one if necessary."

Tendentiously, the El Nuevo Herald article included a photo taken during one of the historic Marches of the Fighting People that passed by the Interests Section office (USIS) in which our people appear in the surroundings of that office reaffirming their rejection of the imperialist and genocidal policies toward Cuba. The objective of the photo is to manipulate readers into believing that right now and on a constant basis, the USIS is surrounded by our compatriots, when in reality what surrounds it is absolute normality and the only people there are specialized personnel charged with guarding that facility.

The article ends by slipping in a sentence that exposes the real hidden intentions behind this latest maneuver: "In response to the aggravation of the situation in its offices, the U.S. Interests Section in Havana could be temporarily forced to suspend its activities, something that would explain the step of beginning to destroy important documents."

A few hours later, evidently confirming the U.S. government’s part in the orchestration and direction of this campaign of lies, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack cynically insisted on accusing our government of harassing the USIS. Playing the victim, McCormack said that despite the supposed difficulties with electricity and water supplies, the USIS was continuing to "do its work," including its efforts to "reach out to the Cuban people," and impudently affirmed that the alleged USIS problems could be linked to its activities of "offering basic information and facts to the Cuban people."

Thus, the lying spokesman qualified as "doing its work" the growing attempts at espionage and subversion that the USIS is carrying out in Cuba. What he referred to as "efforts to reach out to the Cuban people" are the patronage, direction and generous financing of mercenary factions nursed by the USIS in Cuba and comprised of traitors and stoolies who collaborate with the implementation of the brutal blockade that is being used to attempt to bring our people to their knees through hunger and sickness. And, at the height of insolence, he describes as "offering basic information and data to the Cuban people" the systematic launching of the crudest insults of our people via the electronic billboard, which, in violation of the most elemental regulations of international law, they think they can maintain with impunity on the facade of that imperial lair.

To get an idea of the type of "information and facts" that the USIS has been spreading via its electronic billboard, let’s take just one example:

"Many decent Cuban women cannot live decently without doing something indecent. If you are young and pretty, what is more beneficial: to follow a career or a Spaniard?" (April 7 and 8)

In the afternoon, Drew Blakeney, spokesman for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, told a bald-faced lie in a statement to the Cuban press when he affirmed: "The regime's increasing resort to bullying tactics in dealing with USIS and the Cuban people comes as no surprise; it has been trying to isolate and harass the Interests Section for some time." He also added, "On Monday, June 5, at approximately 3:00 a.m., electricity supplies to the main building of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana were cut off."

El Nuevo Herald and U.S. government spokespersons are shamelessly lying when they hold our government responsible for a supposed power cut and a decrease in the availability of potable water to the Interests Section.

We categorically deny that any premeditated cuts of electric power have been made to block the operations of the Interests Section’s offices. In fact there were a large number of power failures in the city of Havana and throughout the country; one of them occurred along the underground 13,000-volt circuit Vedado2, which directly feeds the Interests Section offices, and one of the two channels that supplies electric power to the Anti-Imperialist Tribune, due to the adverse weather conditions experienced by the country over the last two weeks up until yesterday afternoon, Monday (June 12): repair work on this interruption is underway just like on all the others. In spite of that, as the spokespeople admit, the USIS has continued in full function, including its provocative electronic billboard which, since January 16 and for almost five months, has been offending and insulting our people, demonstrating that that facility has not lacked even one watt of electricity.

Maliciously, the U.S. government neglects to mention that every time the USIS has reported having difficulties with its supply of potable water or electric power for its facilities, these have been duly attended to by the Cuban enterprises charged with providing those services.

The USIS consumes an average of 26,000 kilowatts monthly, the same amount of energy consumed by about 200 average Cuban families.

In spite of the reorganization of fuel distribution being carried out in the country, the USIS has received from the CUBALSE enterprise a total of 53,756 liters of fuel to date this year.

In spite of the difficult conditions of drought and difficulties in supplying potable water in the city of Havana, which before the recent rain were affecting almost the entire country, the enterprise that supplies water to the capital has maintained a stable water supply to the USIS.

In response to a USIS requirement, during the month of March of this year the water company sent its technicians to the main building and to the USIS annex to review the internal and external aqueduct mains and solve any difficulties presented.

From January 2006 to date, the Cuban CUBALSE enterprise has carried out seven actions of maintenance or repair on the buildings housing the USIS officials.

In spite of the fact that on February 1 the USIS rudely expelled from its facilities workers from the Blas Roca Caderío Contingent, who were carrying out construction work on the annex building, CUBALSE has been punctually supplying the USIS with materials for continuing that work. To date, the USIS has received the 44 cubic meters of premixed concrete, 540 meters of rebar, and 300 meters of steel sheeting that it has requested.

The USIS currently has 302 contracted Cuban workers. To date this year, nine of those workers have traveled abroad on the request of the USIS, with the aim of receiving training in order to carry out their duties.

The U.S. spokespersons likewise neglected to mention the most important fact: that during this year alone, the USIS has received immediate approval for 33 requested operations to return illegal emigrants, without any delay or exception whatsoever; four operations to repatriate Cuban citizens considered to be excludable by U.S. authorities, and eight consular visits to U.S. citizens being held in Cuban jails.

The latest accusations against the Cuban government are part of the Yankee administration’s plans, exposed by compañero Fidel on January 22 and 24 of 2006, when he literally affirmed, "Under pressure from the Cuban-American mafia, and as one of its next steps, the government of the United States is intent on openly violating the U.S.-Cuba Migratory Agreement (...) It is looking for any pretext to prevent, at all costs, the sale of agricultural products to Cuba, which has been increasing, while our country has paid every cent on time during five years - something it did not expect from a blockaded nation facing constant aggression (...) And, unhappy with the decision taken by President Carter on May 30, 1977, it proposes to force a rupture in its current minimal diplomatic ties with Cuba. The gross provocations that have been carried out from its Interests Section offices in Havana do not and cannot have any other purpose."

The latest accusations against Cuba also perfidiously aim to distract attention from the real problem, the subversive and provocative nature of actions by the USIS, which in frank violation of the diplomatic status conferred on it by international agreements and conventions, has become the General Staff of the counterrevolution, which it directs and materially and financially supplies in order to incite the subversion of internal order in our country.

Perhaps they think that Cuba is afraid of the constant provocations that are devised against our homeland or the consequences of a rupture in the minimal existing ties, already substantially deteriorated due to the immoral and cynical policies of the Bush administration.

It is up to the imperialist U.S. government to explain its demented and reiterated practice of devising and implementing new brutal measures against Cuba, and its vain attempts to break the heroic resistance of our people.

The U.S. government is sinking morally and materially in its war of conquest in Iraq, corruption scandals, growing budget and account deficits, high energy prices, inability to overcome natural disasters, illegal espionage against its own citizens, and the repugnant practice of clandestine arrests and torture on a global scale.

The Revolutionary government has provided a lesson in equanimity, firmness and strict adherence to diplomatic regulations in its response to the vulgar, contemptible actions of the USIS and the mercenaries at its service in our country.

With our moral authority and our principles, we will defeat each and every of its criminal and cowardly campaigns, provocations and aggressions!

Cuba fights openly and with clean weapons; it has no reason to seek pretexts to harass the USIS. It knows how to say "yes" or "no" to requests by the empire’s representatives. It is not looking for subterfuges, or trying to cut electric cables to turn off trashy little signs. It is not harassing U.S. officials or representatives. The millions of people who have paraded past those facilities with honor and dignity, including children and teenagers, have never thrown a single stone against that building. Throughout the history of the Revolution, Cuba has always fought with a moral authority that crushes its enemies. If the current U.S. government is seeking pretexts to remove the USIS, cut food sales to our people and do away with the Migration Agreement, then let it do so without inventing them or attempting to perpetuate its gross and cowardly provocations, which did not come from Cuba, but from the USIS, which has become a bastion, headquarters and bank for the mercenaries and a center for supplying subversive materials brought in as contraband in their diplomatic pouches. Cuba could peacefully do without all of that, and everything else signified by interventionism and outrages. It would not shed a single tear at its departure. There is no need to burn papers. It does not matter how many monstrous crimes they document. Our Revolution would never attack or violate a diplomatic office. It never has and it never will.

On the web:

Cuba rebuffs US charges of diplomatic harassment

Havana 13 June: Cuba on Tuesday rebuffed the US charges of harassment against its mission in Havana, saying Washington is making up stories aiming to create a bilateral crisis.

The rebuff was carried by the official newspaper Granma after US. diplomats told international press that the Cuban government had cut off supplies of electricity and reduced drinking water in a bid to harass them.

Accusing the US officials who had discussed the problems of telling "bare-faced liars," the newspaper said they were trying to create a diplomatic crisis in order to revoke migratory accords and food purchase agreements signed between Cuba and US business people.

The newspaper said that the US office had never been under attack, either overtly or covertly, even though it was using an electronic screen to show anti-Cuban messages.

"These last anti-Cuban imputations have the perfidious objective of distracting the attention from the real problem, which is the subversive and provocative actions of the Special Interests Office," said the newspaper.

It also accused the US office of warehousing material and financing activities to subvert the country's internal order.

"The revolutionary government has given them a lesson in firmness, and acted in strict adherence to diplomatic rules in the face of vulgar, despicable actions," the newspaper said.

Cuba and the United States broke diplomatic relations in 1961.

In 1977, during the administration of then U.S. President Jimmy Carter, the US Interests Office was established under the Swiss Embassy in Havana to handle consular affairs such as visa processing. Cuba has a similar office in Washington.

Row over US mission 'blackout'

Havana 13 June: Only days after Cuba declared an end to the power cuts that have plagued the island since the collapse of the Soviet Union, US diplomats have accused the Cuban government of cutting off the electricity to their mission in Havana.

The former embassy has been relying on generators for the past week and receives only intermittent mains water, according to the US.

The US complaint came as a Cuban minister announced an end to the country's longstanding electricity shortages.

Basic Industry Minister Yadira Garcia told parliament on Saturday that hundreds of small power plants had been linked in to the electricity grid, making more power available for the summer peak period.

"In less than eight months conditions have been created that guarantee that there will be no blackouts in our country due to a lack of generating capacity," she said.

The US diplomats say the power to their main building was cut off in the middle of the night on 5 June.

They say repeated calls to the Cuban authorities, asking them to restore the electricity, have gone unanswered.

A press statement issued by the Interests Section describes the electrical cut off as part of Cuba's "bullying tactics", which it says includes preventing diplomats from importing cars, and "intrusions" into their homes.

The Cuban authorities made no comment.

The US Interests Section, which is charged with distributing 20,000 immigration visas a year to Cubans, has been the centre of numerous controversies. It is housed in the same building which was the US embassy, before diplomatic relations between the two countries were broken in the early 1960s.

Interests Sections were established to handle consular and other activities in the late 1970s.

Most recently, the Section set up a huge electronic sign that illuminates at night with anti-Cuba propaganda messages. The Cuban government has formally complained that this is a breach of the agreement which allows the Interests Section to exist and earlier this year placed a forest fo flagpoles in front of the building to obscure the messages from view.

In 2003, the Interests Section was found to be involved in the financing of numerous so-called 'dissident' groups that resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of 75 Cubans for having accepted cash and favour payments in order to oppose the Cuban government.

In 1987, Cuban double agents revealed that the Section was the centre of a huge spy network when almost all the diplomats engaged there were exposed as CIA agents.

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