The Miami Herald
Mar. 27, 2002

Cuba flails Mexico foreign chief

                      HAVANA - (AP) -- Cuba accused Mexico's foreign minister, Jorge Castañeda, on Tuesday of
                      orchestrating Fidel Castro's sudden departure from the U.N. poverty summit in northern Mexico last
                      week, insisting it had proof to back up its claims.

                      The attack on Castañeda in the Communist Party daily Granma was the most serious incident in recent
                      sparring between the two nations' foreign ministries.

                      Although it called Castañeda the ''diabolical and cynical architect'' of Castro's decision to leave the
                      forum, Granma insisted that Cuba wants good relations with Mexico ``and not harm in the least the
                      authority and prestige of President Fox.''

                      ''We ask for nothing more than an end to the provocations, insults, lies and macabre plans of Mr.
                      Castañeda against Cuba,'' the newspaper said in an editorial. ``Otherwise, there remains no other
                      alternative than to divulge that which we have not wanted to divulge, making dust of his false and
                      cynical pronouncements.

                      ''Cuba has irrefutable proof of all that occurred,'' it added.

                      After Castro suddenly left the forum in Monterrey on Thursday, Cuban officials claimed that Mexico
                      bowed to pressure from the United States to ensure that Castro did not attend the meetings of heads
                      of state being held in conjunction with the U.N. gathering.

                      Both countries denied those charges.

                      Cuba didn't single out Castañeda for attack until Tuesday.

                      In Mexico City, meanwhile, some Mexican lawmakers are demanding an explanation from Castañeda,
                      and others want him fired over the incident with Castro.

                      Politicians from the far left of Mexico's political spectrum accused Castañeda on Monday of turning his
                      back on Mexico's foreign policy in order to placate President Bush, who made it clear he did not want to
                      cross paths with Castro at the U.N. meeting.

                      ''Precisely because of one person, the relations that Mexico and Cuba have enjoyed for many years are
                      in danger,'' said Congressman Sergio Acosta Salazar, of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party.

                      Several opposition politicians, including members of the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party,
                      said they would ask Castañeda to appear before Congress as soon as next week to explain his