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Cuba Accuses Czech Diplomats

April 20, 2000

HAVANA (AP) _ Cuban officials have accused Czech diplomats of taking money from anti-Castro groups and the United States to aid dissidents in Cuba _ and they called Czech President Vaclav Havel a ``fabricated dissident.″

The Wednesday night attack came in response to a Czech resolution approved Tuesday by the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

The resolution criticized Cuba’s human rights record, and it follows a government-organized protest march past the Czech embassy on Tuesday. Cuban news media said 200,000 people attended _ up from the 100,000 that were predicted.

In Prague, a Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman called the Cuban allegations ``total nonsense.″

``We firmly dismiss the Cuban allegations,″ Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil told The Associated Press. ``Neither the Czech charge d’affaires nor his deputy are doing any subversive action.

``The Cuban allegations are an obvious reaction to the Czech-sponsored U.N. resolution, which, however, was an offer for a dialogue from our side. It wasn’t an act of hostility.″

With President Fidel Castro in the audience, Cuban state television broadcast officials and reporters of official news media denouncing Czech officials as ``lackeys″ of the United States.

Manuel Hevia, identified as a legal expert, read summaries of security dossiers on Czech diplomats in Cuba since 1989, when the European country threw off its communist government.

Repeatedly citing names and dates, Hevia described meetings between Czech diplomats and Cuban dissidents, accusing the diplomats of passing cash, computers, propaganda and other supplies to ``anti-revolutionary ringleaders″ on behalf of anti-Castro activists in Florida.

He claimed some Czech diplomats apparently were paid by anti-Castro groups in Florida and said one made more than 20 visits to Miami.

Some diplomats ``converted themselves into paid mercenaries,″ Hevia said, describing it as ``a deliberate work of espionage.″

``Those paid agents have betrayed the interests of their own country,″ he said.

Cuba apparently did not expel any of the Czech diplomats, though it has twice rejected proposed Czech ambassadors. The embassy in Havana is run by a lower ranking charge d’affaires.

The television program accused the Czech Republic of harboring Nazi-like skinheads and of demolishing social programs created during decades of communist rule when Czechoslovakia was part of the Soviet bloc and a Cuban ally.

It aimed as well at Havel, a dissident writer widely respected in the West before the ``Velvet Revolution″ ended communist rule..

Pedro de la Hoz, a writer for the Communist Party newspaper Granma, said the Western buildup of Havel’s reputation showed ``how a dissident is fabricated.″

``They fabricated Vaclav Havel in a very similar way to how they try to fabricate dissidents in other countries, such as our own, where people with no talent, with absolutely great intellectual mediocrity, try to pass as poets,″ he said.

Pospisil expressed regret that Cuban officials had chosen to denounce Havel ``in such a coarse, unscrupulous way.″

The Cuban commentators accused Czech officials of being ``marionettes″ for the United States at the U.N. Human Rights Commission. The U.N. resolution expressed concern about the continuing repression and detention of opposition activists in Cuba and accused the Cuban government of continued ``violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.″

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