Invitations create diplomatic flap

October 6, 2005

Miami Herald- Frances Robles

Miffed because dissidents who oppose Fidel Castro were also invited, the Cuban government boycotted Germany's National Day celebrations this week, dealing another setback to the island's relations with the European Union.

The question of whether to invite political dissidents to European embassy parties in Havana has been the subject of a diplomatic battle since the Cuban government's round up of 75 dissidents two years ago. The European Union started inviting dissidents to its parties as a show of support. In turn, Castro's government snubbed European diplomats in Havana.

In January, European Union embassies quit inviting dissidents to soirées because the action was seen as antagonistic to Castro at a time the European bloc was trying to initiate talks with the government. But several former Soviet states like the Czech Republic balked, and in June, the EU quietly reversed the move, letting each nation make its own call.

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