Cuba Takes Control of Spanish Center M
*** HAVANA - Fidel Castro's communist government took its first major step in its anti-Europe campaign Saturday, taking control of the Spanish Embassy's cultural center - a showcase of Iberian tradition Havana says was used to nurture the opposition. The Foreign Ministry announcement came two days after Castro led hundreds of thousands of people on marches outside the Spanish and Italian embassies in the capital to protest European alignment with U.S. policies supporting pro-democracy dissidents.
Havana was responding to the 15-member European Union's announcement last week that it would review its relations with the island after a crackdown on the opposition and the firing-squad executions of three men who tried to hijack a ferry to South Florida. A government statement Saturday said Cuba was canceling its agreement with the Spanish Embassy, first signed in 1995 and renewed in September, to operate the cultural center in a renovated historic building facing the ocean in the capital's Old Havana district. ***
Castro's execution of 3 raises specter of racism
*** The execution of three blacks by a Cuban government firing squad in April for attempting to hijack a boat to Miami is raising questions about racism on the communist island. It was the first time anyone, black or white, had been executed for trying to flee Cuba.
Cuban President Fidel Castro justified the executions of Jorge Luis Martinez Isaac, Lorenzo Enrique Copello Castillo and Barbaro Leodan Sevilla Garcia as a deterrent to another mass exodus. But some Cuba watchers, on and off the island, doubt that the three would have been put to death had they been white. ***
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