The Miami Herald
Jun. 14, 2003

Castro calls U.S. report on sex trade 'despicable'

  HAVANA - (AFP) -- President Fidel Castro late Thursday denounced a U.S. report accusing Cuba of failing to adequately fight sex trafficking, saying that Secretary of State Colin Powell should hang his head in shame.

  ''It's really despicable, rude, cynical and repugnant,'' Castro said of a State Department report issued Wednesday that blacklisted Cuba and 14 other countries for not
  making ''significant efforts'' to combat the trafficking of human beings, particularly of women and children.

  While Powell did not draw up the report, Castro said during a three-hour speech closing an international meeting on culture and development held here, he did present it to the world.

  ''Mr. Powell should ponder a bit on this; it should make him feel a little ashamed,'' Castro said, adding that he hoped the secretary of state would ``show a modicum of
  decency and correct himself.''

  In its reference to Cuba, the report said its government turns a blind eye to the exploitation of minors to gain much needed foreign currency.

  Besides Cuba, the State Department's third annual ''Trafficking in Persons'' report cites Belize, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Dominican Republic, Georgia, Greece, Haiti,
  Kazakhstan, Liberia, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Suriname, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

  The report has been criticized by the Women's Rights Division of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch for lacking hard figures on the number of people being trafficked.