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Cuba Accuses US Diplomats of Encouraging Dissidents


Cuba has accused U.S. diplomats in Havana of encouraging dissenters to organize demonstrations to mark July 4, which is Independence Day in the United States.

Havana's Foreign Ministry published a statement in Cuba's official Granma newspaper Wednesday, saying diplomats in the U.S. Interests Section have been encouraging dissidents to carry out what Cuba calls "provocative actions in public streets."

The Foreign Ministry said U.S. diplomats have hosted teleconferences between U.S. citizens and Cuban dissidents, including one with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, a Cuban-American involved in U.S. policy on Cuba.

The statement also said U.S. officials have visited the homes of dissident leaders and given them access to the Internet, cell phones, and other communication supplies. There was no immediate response from Interests Section officials.

A State Department spokesman says Cuba is one of the few places on Earth where simply having a meeting is deemed a threat to the government. He said, without elaborating, that the Cuban statement is an indication of the kind of repressive regime that exists in Cuba.

In May, Cuba accused Michael Parmly, head of the U.S. Interests Section there, of ferrying money from a private exile group to dissidents on the island. The State Department responded by saying that Washington provides humanitarian assistance to the families of political prisoners and does not stand in the way of private groups providing the same support.

Cuba and the United States have no formal diplomatic ties, but have interests sections in each other's capitals.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.


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