By WILL WEISSERT | AP
Cuba delivered a formal protest Friday to diplomats from five European Union embassies who visited the home of a jailed dissident.
The Ministry of Foreign Relations summoned the diplomats from Sweden, Great Britain, Hungary, Poland and Germany to denounce the visit, according to two of the officials.
Staffers at foreign embassies often have contacts with the families of jailed opposition activists, sometimes drawing rebukes from Cuba which sees the visits as meddling in its internal affairs. The government views the dissidents as “mercenaries” funded by countries such as the United States that are trying to undermine the communist system.
A diplomat at the embassy of Sweden, which holds the rotating EU presidency, organized the Thursday trip to take food, clothing and other donations to the wife of Darsi Ferrer, who was arrested last month on charges of buying bags of cement on the black market.
One of the officials, who said diplomatic rules bar publication of his name, said the foreign ministry delivered a clear message: “that we were putting in danger the political dialogue begun with Cuba.”
It was the European Union’s first contact with a top opposition activist since last summer, when it lifted five years of sanctions imposed for Cuba’s arrest of 75 leading dissidents.
Another of the diplomats, a British Embassy staffer who said he was not authorized to have his name published, said the diplomats see the visit as independent of their relationship with Cuba.
All the diplomats involved are acting heads of their country’s missions in Cuba since their ambassadors are on vacation or otherwise unavailable.
Government press officers also summoned foreign journalists based in Havana, including those from The Associated Press, on Friday to complain that they had covered the diplomats’ visit to Ferrer’s home.