The Cuban government has rejected as "grotesquely false" US claims that Cuban guards had shot and killed Cuban citizens seeking asylum in the US military base at Guantánamo.
In Havana on July 8, Cuban foreign minister Roberto Robaina, announced that Cuba had responded officially to a US State Department note (No 272). Robaina said that the US note was unusual and insulting.
Moreover, the State Department had made the contents of its note known to the press in Washington without waiting for a Cuban reply. The note claimed that on several occasions between June 19 and 27 Cuban border troops threw hand grenades into the water and fired machine guns, killing at least three people swimming toward the US base, whose bodies were recovered with harpoons.
The Cuban response rejected as "ridiculous, fevered and lying" accusations such as the use of harpoons to recover bodies.
During the period concerned, 34 Cubans had been arrested attempting to enter the base but none had been injured, let alone killed.
"We would like to believe", said the Cuban note, "that the US government has been a victim of grotesquely false and cynical reports." Cuba was outraged that such false information could be so easily accepted by the US authorities and that it could be used in such a deliberately damaging and provocative manner.
According to the Cuban note, the problem of attempts to enter the US base illegally was a direct result of US policy. The Cuban government places no obstacles in the way of anybody wishing to emigrate to the US. However, Cuban citizens denied visas by the US authorities themselves have found that by illegally entering the base they can circumvent US immigration rules.
"If the US sincerely and honestly wishes to avoid incidents of illegal immigration regarding the base, it could perfectly well coordinate with the Cuban authorities adequate measures, without even minor risks for anyone: for example, if its authorities established, in line with its own laws, that this is not a legal or permissible way to travel to the US."
Cuba also made the point that the problem arose from the US maintaining a military base in Cuba against the will of its people. The US note, said the Cubans, was written in unacceptably threatening language. All such threats would be met by the strength and dignity of the Cuban people.