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Mexican Ambassador to Cuba Questioned Over Misspending - 2002-09-14

Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda is questioning his Ambassador to Cuba over alleged financial irregularities, as part of an ongoing diplomatic feud.

The Mexican Foreign Ministry alleges that two separate audits have revealed almost $90,000 worth of misspending in their embassy in Havana, and Ambassador Ricardo Pascoe has unceremoniously and very publicly been recalled to explain the discrepancy.

Ambassador Pascoe who is now back in Mexico City, said he is extremely angry about how the situation has been handled, and that he has done, "absolutely nothing wrong."

Relations between Mexico and Cuba have been strained since earlier this year, when details were made public of a private telephone conversation which Fidel Castro taped between himself and Mexican President Vicente Fox.

Mr. Castaneda recently canceled embassy celebrations in Havana to mark Cuban Independence Day, and was reported to be furious when Mr. Pascoe publicly protested the decision.

Mr. Castaneda, a former Marxist, has enraged Cuban authorities with books he wrote which were deeply critical of the regime there, and Cuba has maintained a steady campaign of criticism against him. President Fox is a member of the right of Center National Action Party, known as PAN.

Mr. Pascoe, who is a member of Mexico's left wing Party of Democratic Revolution, has stuck more closely to his original political roots. If found guilty Mr. Pascoe could be dismissed.