Castro Won't Be Visiting Seattle

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - Cuban President Fidel Castro announced in Havana on Monday that he will not be attending the World Trade Organization meeting set to start Tuesday in Seattle, because he believes American officials are against the trip.

Castro wrote in a letter to Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA), "I was certain that the State Department would not grant me the visa. For that reason, I didn't even bother to apply. I did not want to be submitted to that humiliation."

A spokesman for McDermott said he had planned to set up a meeting for Castro with members of Congress "but not a reception for him" if Castro had gone ahead with plans to attend the WTO meeting. The spokesman also said some members of Congress may meet with the Cuban delegation but that meeting had been planned whether Castro had attended or not.

Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) who vowed to try to have Castro arrested if he set foot in the United States told, "Castro didn't want to take the risk. Various state prosecutors are already looking into [who has] jurisdiction. Who knows? I don't know if my lines were tapped or whatever. The (Clinton) administration somehow must have gotten hold of that and that's why Castro says now that Clinton doesn't want him to come."

Diaz-Balart said he believes the Clinton Administration warned Castro not to attend the WTO meeting because he risked being arrested. "The Clinton administration knew that we had written 3,000 prosecutors asking them to indict Castro for the murders of American citizens and, despite Clinton, this is a victory for the rule of law in the United States."

"This whole WTO-Castro spectacle was prepared by the Clinton administration. They lined up the Chamber of Commerce, other big shots there, that want to do business with Castro," said Diaz-Balart.

Diaz-Balart added that many in Congress support ending the U.S. embargo against Cuba. "Who knows how many Congressmen [support ending the embargo]? The White House didn't want to tell me how many are over there [in Seattle attending WTO]. They're keeping it like a military secret, I don't know why. So they had this whole show prepared for Castro to schmooze with 80 or 90 congressmen to lobby for the end of the embargo, all in coordination with Clinton."

The Miami congressman said he has no plans to go to Seattle to protest the WTO meeting.

The congressman said several prosecutors who were contacted about pursuing murder charges against Castro are still considering taking action even if he does not set foot on U.S. soil. "Castro obviously concluded that he didn't want to take the risk of being arrested in the United States and to having face a trial for murder."

Meanwhile, Diaz-Balart said he continue to work with prosecutors who are looking into a possible indictment of Castro on charges that four flyers died in a 1996 Cuban warplane attack on two American civilian aircraft.