- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 9, 2002

From combined dispatches
HAVANA Cuba responded yesterday to the expulsion of four of its diplomats from the United States by accusing the U.S. mission in Havana of breaking international norms with spying and meddling in Cuba's internal affairs.
The Foreign Ministry statement set the stage for the potential retaliatory expulsion of American diplomats from Havana.
"Cuba has the right to respond, and will, at the appropriate moment," it said.
"The government of the United States knows that we can present ample evidence of their activities of espionage and constant subversion against Cuba," according to the statement published by the Communist Party daily Granma.
The United States government "doesn't have the least bit of moral authority, nor any justification to propose these assertions against our diplomats," the statement said.
U.S. diplomats have angered President Fidel Castro's government by helping dissidents and handing out shortwave radios for Cubans to listen to American radio broadcasts.
The Cuban statement said the U.S. interference violated the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.
Havana said the expulsions, ordered last week by President Bush's administration, were a "grotesque" ploy to win votes in Tuesday's midterm elections among Cuban exiles in Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, was re-elected governor.
The expulsions were aimed at undermining growing support in the United States for lifting the 4-decades-old trade sanctions against Cuba, the Cuban statement said.
Specifically, Havana blamed the action against its diplomats on Cuban-born U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich. It said Mr. Reich was obsessed with trying to halt "the unstoppable advance of forces in the United States against the policy of aggressions and attacks against Cuba."
On Nov. 1, the State Department declared first secretaries Gustavo Machin and Oscar Redondo at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington "persona non grata" and gave them 10 days to leave the country.
Two other Cuban diplomats at the United Nations in New York, Francisco Gonzalez and Carlos Suanes, were also asked to leave the United States "for engaging in activities deemed to be harmful to the United States outside their official capacity" apparently a euphemism for spying.
The expulsions were a response to the activities of Ana Belen Montes, a former U.S. intelligence officer who was sentenced to 25 years in jail in October for spying for Cuba.
Belen Montes, an American citizen of Puerto Rican descent, analyzed intelligence about Cuba for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. She admitted she had voluntarily spied for Cuba for 17 years for ideological reasons.
The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba more than 40 years ago after Mr. Castro seized power in a 1959 revolution. The two nations maintain interests sections in each other's capitals.
Tensions between Havana and Washington mounted again in May when Mr. Bush vowed to maintain the trade embargo until Cuba allowed democratic reforms of its one-party state and announced stepped up support for dissidents on the island.

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