GEORGE GEDDA | Associated Press
The United States is accusing Cuba of “blatant distortions” in claiming that Washington intends to invade the island and evict people from their homes as part of a post-Castro occupation plan.
Responding to an official Cuban statement on July 1, the State Department registered its disagreement in a four-page note sent to the Cuban diplomatic mission in Washington last week. A copy of the note was obtained by The Associated Press.
The Cuban position had been set forth in a statement by National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon the day after new U.S. penalties against Cuba took effect.
Alarcon’s statement began by saying that “the empire (the United States) plans to crush the Cuban nation and proclaims its intentions with insulting arrogance.”
It said the United States “is intensifying the economic war, the internal subversion, the anti-Cuba propaganda and the pressures on the rest of the world designed to pave the way for a direct military intervention that would destroy the Revolution, end our independence and sovereignty and realize the old annexationist fantasy of seizing control of Cuba.”
The State Department note said Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have said repeatedly that the United States has no intention of invading Cuba.
It added that Cuban authorities have refused U.S. offers to directly inform the Cuban people of American policy, including the goal of a peaceful transition in Cuba.
“The mendacious threat of military action does not fool the Cuban people and cannot obscure the regime’s half-century of economic failure and political repression,” the note said.
President Bush’s directives are partly designed to curb the flow of U.S. dollars to Cuba. Visits by Cuban-Americans to the island can be made only at three-year intervals instead of annually, with no humanitarian exceptions allowed.
The authorized per diem for a family visit was slashed to $50, compared with the previous $164. Dollar transfers to Cubans on the island are still permitted - the $1,200 ceiling remains - but recipients can only be immediate family members. The range of humanitarian items that can be shipped to Cuba was sharply reduced.
Bush’s policy shifts had been recommended by a government commission headed by Powell. The bulk of a commission report, issued in May, focussed on post-Castro U.S. assistance activities and needs assessments in the fields of agriculture, the economy, infrastructure health, education and housing.
As Alarcon described it, “The Cuban society would be completely subjugated to the United States, which would dominate all its activities without exception.” Homes in Cuba, he said, could be reclaimed by the “annexationist mafia” that backed the pre-Castro military government.
The note insisted that the proposed transition programs “are not intended to be a prescription for how Cuba organizes itself or what policies it decides ultimately to pursue; those decisions remain with the Cuban people, expressed through a free and sovereign Cuban government.”
It added: “The United States does not intend to dictate terms; the Cuban people have already had to suffer that for the past 45 years.”