Cuba ups pressure on U.S. embassy in Havana

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba’s foreign minister on Tuesday charged the United States with violating the historic 2015 agreement reestablishing diplomatic relations after decades by interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

FILE PHOTO: Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez attends a news conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (not pictured) at Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing, China May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Florence Lo

Bruno Rodriguez tweeted the U.S. embassy in Havana was engaged in “illegal” activity “intended to attack our constitutional order.”

It was the second time in less than a week that the Communist-run government accused U.S. diplomats of fomenting dissent.

While harsh rhetoric has returned to the old Cold War foes bilateral relations, Cuba has refrained from attacking U.S. diplomats up to now.

Relations, broken off in 1961 and only partially restored in the 1980s, were reestablished as part of a short-lived detente orchestrated by former U.S. President Barack Obama.

President Donald Trump, upon taking office, quickly announced he opposed the warming trend and is demanding Cuba cease its support for the Venezuelan government of socialist Nicolas Maduro and reform its political and economic system.

“They violate the Vienna Convention, the agreement for the reestablishment of relations and Cuban and U.S. laws,” Rodriguez wrote, without providing specifics.

The U.S. embassy did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Last week an editorial in the Communist Party newspaper Granma blasted the embassy for its support of leading dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer, who was arrested nearly two months ago.

Granma accused U.S. diplomats of seeking to destabilize the country, recruit mercenaries and identify new sectors of the economy to sanction rather than boosting ties.

The State Department defended the embassy’s activities and said they would continue.

Cuba regularly brands dissidents as in the pay of Washington.

Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Cuban state-run Corporacion Panamericana for facilitating fuel transactions on behalf of another previously sanctioned Cuban entity for its role in Venezuelan oil shipments to the Caribbean island nation.

Over the last year, the United States has added new measures to the decades old trade embargo such as sanctioning any company involved in Venezuelan oil shipments to Cuba. Washington has also allowed Cuban-Americans to sue foreign and U.S. companies for trafficking in properties nationalized in the early months of the Cuban Revolution.

Shortages of everything from fuel and medicine to consumer goods have become common this year in Cuba, which the government blames on sanctions and the United States counters are due to the country’s economic inefficiencies.

Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Tom Brown

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