(CNSNews.com) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday he is seeking answers from U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres over what he called “a childish temper tantrum” by Cuban diplomats, aimed at disrupting a U.S.-sponsored event at the United Nations.
Earlier U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley also wrote to Guterres, demanding that the communist nation’s delegation pay for damage caused to U.N. property during last Tuesday’s incident at U.N. headquarters.
Angered by a side event highlighting the plight of Cuban political prisoners, Cuban delegates occupied the meeting room, shouting down speakers and banging on tables in what the regime’s ambassador later described as an exercise of “revolutionary diplomacy.”
Speaking to reporters at the State Department, Pompeo said the Cuban diplomats had thrown “a childish temper tantrum” at “a meeting highlighting the Cuban regime’s intolerance of political opposition and the plight of political prisoners.”
He said he has written to Guterres, “requesting to know what measures the U.N. will take to respond to these actions and make sure that they do not happen again.”
Shortly after his remarks, Pompeo met with Guterres at the department.
In the run-up to the disrupted event, Cuba complained that U.N. facilities, including the chamber usually used by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the webcast system, were being used by one member-state to “attack” another.
According to U.S. Ambassador Kelley Currie, who presided over the meeting, virtually the entire Cuban U.N. delegation turned up, refused to leave so U.N. security could carry out a routine sweep, and then once the event got underway “began disrupting it, screaming, beating on the table, and in general trying to shout out – shout over the people who were speaking on the panel.”
Diplomats from the delegation of Bolivia, a left-wing ally of Havana, also took part.
Fox News reported earlier this week that Haley had written to Guterres, noting damage to desk and headsets, and demanding that the Cuban and Bolivian delegations pay for repairs.
She said U.N. officials had initially said the U.S. as the event organizer should pay, but later relented and said the U.N. itself would carry the cost.
But that, too, was unacceptable, Haley wrote, pointing out that U.S. taxpayers account for 22 percent of the U.N. operating budget.
“The Cuban and Bolivian delegations caused the damage to the desks by beating on them to create a circus-like disturbance in the chamber,” she said. “They continued to do so even after they were warned that they were damaging U.N. property.”
“Therefore we insist that those delegations be held responsible for any costs associated with repairs. The United States will not allow its contribution to the United Nations to go towards repairing damage done deliberately and willfully by other delegations.”
(The 22 percent of the U.N. regular budget contributed by the U.S. amounts to around $591.4 million this year. Cuba accounts for 0.06 percent of the U.N. regular budget, or $1.58 million in 2018, and Bolivia for 0.012 percent, or less than $292,000 this year.)
Bolivian President Evo Morales, responding to U.S. calls for U.N. action against the Cuban and Bolivian delegations, tweeted that the country responsible for “the worst crimes against humanity” has no moral right to make such demands.
On Monday, Guterres spokesman Farhan Haq said Guterres was studying Haley’s letter, “and we’ll evaluate what kind of response can be made” and “what further steps are needed.”
‘A political comedy staged on false arguments’
Panelists in the U.S.-hosted event included the sister of a Cuban political prisoner, a former political prisoner, and Organization of American States secretary-general Luis Almagro.
In her reaction to the disruption on the day of the event, Currie said the Cuban diplomats should be ashamed of themselves.
“I have never in my life seen diplomats behave the way that the Cuban delegation did today,” she said. “And it makes you wonder, that if the diplomats of this government behave this way, how do the police behave?”
“You can understand very well why people feel afraid to speak their minds, why people are thrown in jail for speaking their minds, with this kind of government, this kind of thuggish behavior.”
Cuba’s U.N. delegation said in a later statement that the U.S. had “once again sullied the name of the United Nations.”
“The event, as we had foreseen, was a political comedy staged on false arguments and with supporting actors of a dark history at the service of a foreign power, many of them paid by Washington, including the secretary-general of the puppet Organization of American States.”
The delegation said the event sponsors had been “not willing to listen to Cuba’s truth” but boasted that “Cuba’s voice was heard despite everything.”
It described the event as the latest by the U.S. “aimed at subverting the legitimately established constitutional order and of the interventionist agenda that has gained renewed momentum under the current administration, whose fascist, racist and xenophobic ideas are a matter of grave concern in the international community.”
A commentary in Granma, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party’s central committee, said the aim of the U.S. event was “to promote an image of Cuba as an alleged human rights violator, in order to justify the prolonged economic and commercial blockade against the island.”
Next Wednesday the U.N. General Assembly will hold its annual vote condemning the U.S. embargo.
Last year the resolution was adopted by 191 votes to two – the United States and Israel – after the Obama administration in 2016 controversially chose – for the first time since the measure was first introduced in 1992 – to abstain.