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Uruguay Expels Cuban Ambassador in Montevideo - 2002-04-24


Uruguay has ordered the expulsion of the Cuban ambassador in Montevideo, one day after breaking diplomatic relations with the communist nation.

Uruguay's Foreign Ministry has declared Cuban ambassador Jose Joaquin Alvarez "persona non grata", and has asked him to leave the country.

The Foreign Ministry also has ordered its envoy in Havana to return to Montevideo.

Deputy Foreign Minister Guillermo Valles told reporters Wednesday that even though diplomatic relations have been broken, commercial and cultural ties with Havana will continue.

Uruguayan President Jorge Batlle decided to break off relations because of insults leveled at him and his government by Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Mr. Castro was angry with Uruguay for sponsoring a resolution before the United Nations Human Rights Commission that calls on Cuba to improve its human rights record. The Cuban leader called Mr. Batlle a "Judas", and accused Uruguay of being what he called a "servile tool" of the United States.

In announcing the decision Tuesday to break relations, Mr. Batlle said the tone of Mr. Castro's insults left him with no choice. He said the Cuban leader's comments were not an insult against him, but against the nation of Uruguay.

Uruguay re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1985, after having broken them off in 1964 at the height of the Cold War.

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