Cuba Politics

Colin Powell weighs in on Havana Christmas lights

Posted December 18, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Politics.


US Secretary of State Colin Powell chided Cuba for displaying Nazi swastikas and pictures of Iraqi prisoner abuse to counter US Christmas decorations in Havana that paid tribute to jailed Cuban dissidents.

“I don’t think that is very wise on their part,” Powell said in the latest volley in the holiday season row that has erupted in the Cuban capital.
The Cubans were infuriated when the US special interests section in Havana put up Christmas lights that included a neon “75”—a pointed reference to 75 dissidents detained in a crackdown last year.

They responded by mounting their own display in front of the US mission, including pictures of prisoner abuse at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and red flags emblazoned with the symbol of Nazi Germany.

Powell, speaking in an interview with the Associated Press, refused to back down on the US decorations, which he called a gesture of solidarity with political prisoners in Cuba.

“And the Cuban government’s response is to put forward and show the world a swastika?” he said, according to a State Department transcript.

“I don’t think that is very wise on their part, and we will continue to stick by our troops down there, our diplomats down there and our Christmas display, with the “75.”

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher rejected Cuban complaints that the reference to the 75 dissidents was a political provocation.

“We think it’s appropriate for this season to put up Christmas lights and to remember the people in jail,” he said. “If the Cuban government thinks that there is a different way to commemorate the season, let them try to explain it.”

Member Comments

On December 18, 2004, publisher wrote:

1. “Diplomat” James Cason put up the 75 which is purely political.

2. The Cuban government asked Cason to remove the political statement. He refused.

3. Cuba responded by putting up actual photos of Abu Ghraib FACING the US Interests Section in Havana so Cason could see them.

I admit, the Nazi swastikas is a bit much but none the less, James Cason started this and now Colin Powell says it’ not wise on Cuba’ part?

If James Cason had any interest or talent to be a diplomat, he would respect the country in which he lives and try to engage the Cuban government rather than enrage the Cuban government.

Now Cason has opened up the international propaganda discussion: Cuba and the 75 vs. US in Iraq.

Even if he put up the 75 sign on his own, now Colin Powell is involved so President Bush knows about it.

I think the US will lose the propaganda battle. Then again, when has anyone from the Bush administration done anything with any common sense related to Cuba.

On December 18, 2004, Jesus wrote:

It is building up, Boucher gets in the act, Powell gets in the act, next Bush will come out with an even more arrogant statement, it’ all part of the provocation. Let’ hope it stops there. And to think that they have time for this nonsense, why don’t they devote full time to fix the MONUMENTAL mess they have created in Iraq?

On December 19, 2004, RevGrrl wrote:

It is a shame that the Cuban government and the rest of the world don’t know the exact numbers of prisoners in Guantanamo so that they could have replied in kind to Cason’ provocation. In the absence of this information, it is perfectly appropriate that Cuba display the swastika, emblem of the most famous attempt at world domination by a particular nationalistic interest whose example has been surpassed by the US in the last 50 years. Millions more have died around the world as a result of US foreign policy in the last 50 years than died under Hitlers’ hegemony. James, Colin et al - If the cap fits, wear it, or perhaps more appropriate - if the cross fits, bear it.

On December 22, 2004, waldo wrote:

Carson continues to show his incompetency as a foreign diplomat by arrogantlyly provoking and offending Cuban Sovereingty. Perhaps he should mellow down, take his high position seriously, or else: Yankee Go Home.