By WILL WEISSERT
May 19, 2008
HAVANA (AP) — Cuba on Monday accused America's top diplomat in Havana of carrying mail to dissidents that contained private funds from an organization run by the benefactor of an alleged terrorist.
Authorities presented e-mails and other correspondence they say back their claim against Michael Parmly, chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. But while the evidence referred to "letters," it included no direct proof there was money involved.
Nevertheless, Cuba claimed the funds were sent to political opposition leaders Martha Beatriz Roque and Laura Pollan from a Miami-based organization called Fundacion Rescate Juridica, which is headed by Santiago Alvarez — a benefactor of Luis Posada Carriles, accused by Cuba of masterminding bombings of a jetliner and hotels and other terrorist acts. Posada has denied the allegations.
"This reveals the connection between the counterrevolutionaries in Cuba with the terrorists," said Josefina Vidal Ferreira, director of the Foreign Ministry's North American Department.
Roque heads the Assembly for Civil Society while Pollan is a member of the Ladies in White group of political prisoners' wives. Neither was immediately available for comment Monday.
Cuba has accused officials at the American mission of providing U.S. government funds and material support to the island's tiny opposition for years.
U.S. officials have acknowledged sending books, radios, tape recorders and other items purchased through the U.S. Agency for International Development, which receives government funding, but they have always adamantly denied giving dissidents cash.
During a 2003 crackdown, Cuba charged 75 opposition members with being "mercenaries" working with U.S. officials to overthrow the communist system and sentenced them to long prison terms. Twenty of the original 75 have been released — 16 on medical parole and four into forced exile in Spain.
U.S. officials and dissidents denied those charges.