BY ANITA SNOW | Miami Herald
Cuba struck back at the United States on Saturday, calling it the world’s worst human rights offender two days after the U.S. State Department criticized the island nation for continuing to imprison scores of dissidents rounded up more than 1 � years ago.
‘‘The government of the United States doesn’t have the minimum moral authority to accuse Cuba,’’ the island’s Foreign Ministry said in an official note published in the Communist Party daily Granma.
‘‘It’s the government of the United States that is the worst violator of human rights in the world,’’ the note said, pointing to alleged abuses of prisoners in Iraq and terror suspects at the U.S. naval base at Guant�namo Bay, Cuba.
The foreign ministry also said the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba ``is a cruel, inhuman and genocidal blockade that over more than four decades has violated the human rights of all the Cuban people.’‘
The Cuban statement, as well as the U.S. statement on Thursday, underscored that relations remain as prickly as ever in the days after the reelection of President Bush. The two countries have not had diplomatic relations since the early 1960s.
The long-standing American trade and travel restrictions against the island nation grew progressively tighter during Bush’s first four-year term.
‘‘The United States condemns the Cuban regime’s abuse of advocates of peaceful change and reform,’’ the U.S. State Department said Thursday, referring to the March 2003 roundup of 75 dissidents that Cuba accused of being mercenaries for the American government.
Those 75 were later sentenced to prison terms averaging 20 years. Seven of the most seriously ill prisoners have since been released for health reasons, but they are still subject to harassment, the U.S. statement said.
Both the dissidents and American officials have repeatedly denied the charges that the activists were receiving money to help the U.S. government undermine Fidel Castro’s socialist system.