US rebukes Spanish conference for talk of Cuba “blockade”
Sat Oct 15, 1:08 PM ET
A final declaration at the assembly in Salamanca contained a resolution calling for an end to what it called an economic “blockade” instead of an “embargo” of Fidel Castro’s Cuba.
“Embargo” is the term preferred by Washington.
The resolution was passed unanimously Thursday by foreign ministers of 19 Latin American countries and three European countries, Andorra, Portugal and Spain.
A US embassy spokesman was quoted by the newspaper ABC Saturday as saying “it would be unfortunate if such a text were to be interpreted as support for the Cuban dictatorship.”
The spokesman admitted not having seen the entire text of the final declaration in its definitive version, expected to be published Saturday.
Fidel Castro was expected at the assembly, but did not appear in the end.
The embassy spokesman said the word “blockade” gave the impression of confusion over the use of the two terms.
As quoted by ABC, he said the Salamanca text was “inconsistent was the dialogue that the United States has conducted with several countries on how to assist political and economic change in Cuba.”
The Spanish government pointed out Saturday that the term “blockade” to describe the more than 40-year-old US economic and trade embargo against Cuba was the term used by the United Nations.
Spanish diplomatic sources expressed surprise at what they said was a “bad interpretation” of the resolution.
Presidents Ricardo Lagos of Chile and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela reacted sharply to the American objections.
“‘May the dogs continue barking, we will continue riding,’ as Don Quixote said,” responded the notably anti-American Chavez.
Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, president of the Eureopean Union’s executive commission in Brussels, said he hoped the resolution would not be seen as a sign of “tolerance for the violation of human rights in Cuba.”
The EU slapped diplomatic sanctions on Cuba in 2003 after a crackdown on dissidents which saw 75 of them jailed. But the 25-nation bloc suspended the action in January, amid conciliatory signs from both sides.
Another resolution appearing in the final statement of the Salamanca conference was said to call for the extradition of Posada Carriles, an anti-Castro activist in Spain sought by the Castro government and Venezuela.