Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cuba accuses U.S. of fomenting dissent

Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:22am EDT

By Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba accused the United States and local dissidents on Thursday of working together to subvert its government, the harshest warning it has issued since a political crackdown in 2003.

It said U.S. diplomats in Cuba have hosted dissidents at receptions, invited them to take part in video conferences, provided them with access to the Internet and given them material support.

"The United States Interests Section in Havana has been consolidated as the leading edge of the North American government's subversive policy and has strengthened its role as the general headquarters of the internal counterrevolution," the government said in a statement published in the ruling Communist Party newspaper Granma.

The United States and Cuba have not had diplomatic relations since 1961, although lower-level Interests Sections were opened in each other's capitals in 1977.

It was the second complaint of U.S. interference since police broke-up a peaceful sit-in by 10 women on Monday near Havana's Revolution Square to demand that new President Raul Castro release 55 of the 75 dissidents jailed in 2003 that are still behind bars.

The government said a statement issued by the Interests Section deploring Monday's incident and expressing support for the women demonstrators was "irrefutable proof of U.S. efforts to foment subversion in our country."

"Cuba affirms its right to impede, neutralize and respond to these provocative actions conceived, financed and encouraged by the government of the United States and its Interests Section in Havana," it said.

(Editing by Anthony Boadle and Kieran Murray)

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