The Cuban government this Wednesday accused the main U.S. diplomat in the country of working closely with José Daniel Ferrer, a dissident detained last month and who heads one of the country’s largest opposition groups.
The accusations against Chargé d’Affaires Mara Tekach were a change in Cuba’s normal language with respect to its relations with the United States, which had remained measured despite the escalation of the campaign of President Donald Trump’s government to restrict income for and sale of oil to Cuba.
Instead of promoting peaceful bilateral relations, “that country’s diplomatic mission in Cuba and particularly its chargé d’affaires have focused in recent months on the failed purpose of recruiting mercenaries, promoting division and confusion among our people, identifying the areas of the economy against which to direct coercive measures, and trying to slander and discredit the work of the Cuban government and the Revolution,” added a statement from the Cuban government, published in Granma, the official newspaper of the Communist Party.
The U.S. embassy in Cuba closed after the country’s socialist revolution and was reopened in 2015 during the normalization of relations with the island by then U.S. President Barack Obama. It has been operating with a minimum staff since the withdrawal of the majority of the personnel in 2017 due to concerns about the mysterious health symptoms experienced by several diplomatic employees, whose cause has not yet been publicly determined.
Ferrer was arrested last month on charges that only became clear this week, which led the United States, opposition groups and human rights organizations to demand his release.
Ferrer’s supporters said Monday that he was charged with assault and described the case as an invention. The Cuban government statement indicates that Ferrer was arrested on October 1 along with three other people on suspicion of kidnapping and assaulting another man.
It alleged that, since the arrest, the United States has used the case in a campaign to discredit Cuba.
I am deeply concerned about the unjust detainment of Jose Daniel Ferrer, a voice for change in Cuba, by the Cuban government. Ferrer must be released at once.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) November 16, 2019
“The Embassy of the United States in Cuba has been the fundamental vehicle of attention, orientation and financing of the conduct of José Daniel Ferrer, in a clear manifestation of interference in the internal affairs of Cuba and of open instigation to violence,” added the Cuban government statement.
Nueva campaña de calumnias de EE. UU. contra Cuba, una vez más la mentira para justificar el fracaso de la política imperial contra un pueblo que no se rinde ni cede ante amenazas porque tenemos la razón. #SomosCuba #SomosContinuidad https://t.co/B0qGyQvBMs Via @Granma_Digital
— Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez (@DiazCanelB) November 20, 2019
The United States says Ferrer is a peaceful dissident, whose human rights have been regularly violated by Cuban security forces.
The Patriotic Union of Cuba, headed by Ferrer, is perhaps the largest opposition group in the country, with operations based primarily in the east of the island. It sporadically organizes protests against the government, which qualifies its members as mercenaries backed by U.S. and Cuban exiles abroad.