Argentina Recalls Its Ambassador to Cuba

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:09 PM EDT

( - Argentina has recalled its ambassador to Cuba after Cuban leader Fidel Castro accused the Argentine government of "licking the Yankee boot."

During a six-hour speech to economists Friday, Castro berated Argentina for supporting the U.S. condemnation of Cuba's human rights record. Castro also alleged that Argentina was seeking to repay U.S. support for a $40-billion-dollar World Bank loan from the by funding a human rights campaign against Cuba.

He said Argentina's "neo-liberal economic policies" reflected a lack of shame or sense of pride in the country.

Argentine Foreign Minister Alberto Giavarini said Castro's comments were of great significance and had "offended" the Argentine government, causing it "profound unease and displeasure."

Giavarini was informed of Castro's comments during a visit to Washington. He said the ambassador had been recalled to Argentina for consultations and also said further measures against Cuba may be taken.

"If they play the same sorry role this year, they will face a lot of discontent because we have a lot of friends in political parties in Argentina," Castro said.

In his speech, Castro said Cuba does not want to engage in "private wars with General (Colin) Powell," and would not respond to the "barbs" the US Secretary of State has launched against Cuba.

The Cuban leader said he doesn't consider Powell to be a "war-monger" despite his command of American military operations during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. "All those who participate in wars want to be president," Castro said, using former presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Franklin Roosevelt as examples.

"(Powell) is a military man; we don't know if he has diplomatic capabilities," Castro continued, adding that it was not necessary to rush to respond to Powell's "barbs."

"We do not want to start miniature wars with General Powell," he said. "Cuba will not cast the first stone (against the United States) but we will repel any political or economic attack from them as we would from any other country."

Shortly after he was confirmed as Secretary of State, Powell said that U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba will remain in place.