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Posted January 25, 2006 by publisher in US Embargo

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Strollers soaking up the sea spray along Havana’s famed Malecon waterfront boulevard absorbed an impromptu lesson on America’s civil rights movement this week when the United States mission began flashing passages from Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech on a giant screen.

In the latest exchange in the US-Cuban cultural war, the electronic tickertape mounted on the fifth floor of the US Interests Section in Havana began beaming King’s quotes in 2,7 metre-high red letters.

The passages were interspersed with sections from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, promising freedom from arbitrary arrest or exile, and inspirational sayings from anti-communist leaders such as Poland’s Lech Walesa and the Czech Republic’s Vaclav Havel.

The illuminations so outraged Cuba’s president, Fidel Castro, that he called for a mass protest today in front of the mission, which is housed in the Swiss embassy. In a three-hour televised speech on Sunday night, Castro described the signs as a provocation intended to break off what limited contact has survived between the two countries, which do not have diplomatic relations. “The US government ... is deliberately trying to force a rupture in the actual diplomatic relations,” he said. “The gross provocation ... can have no other purpose.”

After the scandals about the abuse of detainees at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib prisons, the US was in no position to deliver a lecture about human rights, he added. “They should put those signs inside, not outside.”

The US said the messages were an attempt to open a dialogue with the Cuban people.

Such cultural catfights have occurred before. In 2004, the US office beamed up the figure 75—the number of dissidents being held in Cuban prisons. Cuba retaliated with billboards depicting bounded and hooded Iraqis abused by US troops at Abu Ghraib.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on January 25, 2006 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    I wonder if the US is trying to provoke Castro into reacting to the recent events at the US Interests section?

    Recently Cuban dissidents were allowed to video conference with former Polish President Lech Walesa and now Michael Parmly has shown his un-diplomatic side in order to further provoke the Cuban government.

    It’ sad really, I thought James Cason (the previous “ambassador”) was a useless idiot with his stupid antics now I see that Michael Parmly is just another puppet for the Bush administration. (And that’ coming from a Republican folks. Unfortunately not a very proud Republican.)

    Apparently Michael Parmly is not a diplomat at all.



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  2. Follow up post #2 added on January 25, 2006 by ElaineMiami

    I don’t believe at all that the intent is to “open up dialogue with the Cuban people.”  All it is, is an act of provocation in the hopes that things will escalate to something worse.  It’ truly sad, for the Cuban people, for the Cuban government, and for those of us who would like to see normal relations between the two countries.  Unfortunately, Parmly and those who back him lack much in intelligence, compassion, and just plain common sense. 


  3. Follow up post #3 added on January 25, 2006 by YoungCuban with 409 total posts

    Last person I’d want to provoke is Castro,I am sure if this sort of behavior continues, Castro will order Parmly out of Cuba.

    I’d be very careful with an aging Castro,may not have nukes,but sure does have enough long range missles to make a dent on US soil,and at his age,who knows what he may do,he has nothing further to prove,very dangerous combo if you ask me.


  4. Follow up post #4 added on January 25, 2006 by redwood with 18 total posts

    I wouldn’t underestimate Michael Parmly. He’ been in some hot places.  I think your initial hunch is correct, good publisher: he’ deliberately trying to force a move. 

    The Americans truly believe that Castro support is so thin that US Gov’t need only put one more straw on the camel’ back to foment nationwide dissent.

    If violence breaks out, the Americans must take some responsibility for the injuries.

    Have you heard or seen any reaction from the Swiss?  They shouldn’t put up with this blantant provocation.


  5. Follow up post #5 added on January 25, 2006 by YoungCuban with 409 total posts

    Provoking Castro at this stage in his life is not a wise move by the U.S.

    Let’ not forget his ties to Venezuela, which can be a major factor for the U.S. to slow their role (sort of speak.

    With rising support for Castro in Latin America and Asia and leftist thinking new governments on the rise, the U.S. should simply stand down and play the waiting game.

    As I said before, Castro has nothing more to prove, becareful,be very careful.


  6. Follow up post #6 added on January 25, 2006 by redwood with 18 total posts

    I don’t think we disagree, YoungCuban.  But careful this administration is not.


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