Cuba bars O.A.S. chief, blasts ‘plot’ to embarrass nation

In a remarkably blunt statement, the Cuban Foreign Ministry on Wednesday (Feb. 22) denounced what it called a plot by anti-Cuban individuals and organizations to “generat[e] internal instability, damag[e] the country’s international image, and […] affect the positive developments of Cuba’s diplomatic relations with other states.”

The plot, which reportedly was concocted in Washington “and other capitals of the region,” involved sending Luis Almagro Lemes, secretary general of the Organization of American States, to Havana, where he would be presented with an award “invented by an illegal grouplet” operating in the Cuban capital.

[For a full English translation of the official statement, click here.]

Although not named in the statement by the MINREX, as the ministry is known, the “grouplet” was the Latin American Network of Young People for Democracy, headed by Rosa MarÌa Pay·, whose father, the dissident leader Oswaldo Pay·, died in a car crash in July 2012 in Granma province.

The award to Almagro was presumably for what the MINREX called his “ambitious agenda of self-promotion with attacks on progressive governments such as those in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.”

“Aware of these plans and enforcing the laws which sustain the nation’s sovereignty, the Cuban government decided to deny entry into national territory to foreign citizens linked to the acts described,” the MINREX said.

Accordingly, “Cuban authorities contacted the governments of the countries from which those persons would be traveling, and informed them, [and] attempted to dissuade those involved.”

Former Mexican president Felipe Calderón.

“As international civil aviation regulations stipulate, the airlines cancelled the reservations of those passengers, upon learning that they would not be welcomed [in Cuba]. Some were rerouted.”

Scheduled to travel to Cuba with Almagro had been former Mexican president Felipe Calderón, a former Chilean deputy, Mariana Aylwin, and others.

In a veiled allusion to the United States as an instigator of destabilization in Cuba, the MINREX statement noted that “imperialist and oligarchical attacks have been redoubled against Latin American and Caribbean integration and against democratic institutionality in several of our countries.”

The hemisphere is seeing “isolationist and protectionist ideas, environmental deterioration, deportations, religious and racial discrimination, insecurity, and brutal repression […] expanding across the hemisphere,” the statement said, alluding to recent events in Washington and elsewhere in the U.S.

The MINREX also chided the O.A.S. for “remaining as always silent in the face of these realities” and trying “to sell Cubans ‘the values and principles of the inter-American system.'” It cited President Raúl Castro’s statement that “Cuba will never return to the O.A.S.,” from which the island was suspended in 1962.

“In Cuba, we do not forget the lessons of history,” the statement concluded.

[Photo at top of Rosa María Payá visiting Luis Almagro recently at OAS headquarters in Washington.]

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