US condemns latest attack on Cuban embassy

The United States on Monday condemned the latest attack on Cuba’s embassy in Washington, in which a man allegedly threw two Molotov cocktails at the mission.

Cuba’s communist government, which is despised by many exiles in the United States, described the incident Sunday night as a “terrorist attack.” No one was injured and there was no significant damage.

“All attacks and threats against diplomatic facilities are unacceptable,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

“We are in contact with Cuban embassy officials and, consistent with our obligations under the Vienna Convention, the department is committed to the safety and security of diplomatic facilities and the diplomats who work in them,” he said.

He said the State Department was coordinating with Washington police in the investigation.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel demanded “action from the American authorities.”

“Hatred once again last night caused a terrorist attack against our embassy in Washington, an act of violence and weakness that could have cost precious lives,” he wrote on X, the rebranded name of Twitter.

Cuba’s ambassador to the United States, Lianys Torres Rivera, said the embassy had “immediately communicated with United States authorities, who were given access to the mission to take samples of the Molotov cocktails.”

Russia, a traditional ally of Cuba, “strongly condemned” the incident and urged a “thorough” investigation.

“It should not go unpunished and those responsible for its orchestration should be severely punished,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

Moscow’s diplomatic ties with Washington are at rock bottom over the war in Ukraine.

Havana blames exiles –

The attack took place hours after Diaz-Canel returned to Havana after attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

His New York appearance was met by demonstrations by opponents of the communist government founded by Fidel Castro. No one took responsibility for the attack, although Havana quickly pinned blame on exiles.

“The anti-Cuban groups resort to terrorism when feeling they enjoy impunity, something that Cuba has repeatedly warned the US authorities about,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said.

It was the second attack against the Cuban mission in Washington in recent years, after a man opened fire on the building in April 2020. There were no injuries from that attack either. 

At the time, Cuba summoned the top US diplomat in Havana to deliver a protest over what was also described as a terrorist act.

That shooting left bullet holes in exterior walls and columns, broke a street lamp and damaged several panes of glass and moldings on the front of the building. 

US authorities arrested Alexander Alazo over the shooting, charging him with multiple offenses including “a violent attack on a foreign official or official premises using a deadly weapon,” according to the US Justice Department. 

While Washington frequently sees protests outside foreign embassies, attacks are rare, and the United States routinely denounces incidents that impact its own missions overseas.

The Cuban embassy reopened as a full mission in 2015 after a reconciliation bid by former US president Barack Obama, who believed that decades of US efforts to isolate the island had failed.

His successor, Donald Trump, backed by staunchly anti-communist Latino voters in the politically vital state of Florida, reversed most of Obama’s overtures.

President Joe Biden has mostly kept in place Trump’s policy of pressure and imposed targeted sanctions after Cuba was rocked by unusual mass protests in July 2021.

by Eva Rodriguez and Shaun Tandon