Cuba explains why its diplomat punched a CIA agent
Campaign News | Sunday, 18 April 2004
What really happened to Frank Calzon
April 17: The US media and the worldwide web have been awash with stories of a "violent and unprovoked attack" by a Cuban diplomat on a representative of a US NGO in Geneva.
The incident in question took place during in the corridor of the UN building in Geneva on the morning of April 15 while voting was taking place on the US instigated motion that attempted to criticise Cuba for alleged human rights abuses.
According to reports, Frank Calzon, described as a “Professor of Human Rights” and “Head of a Human Rights NGO” was punched and, he claims, “knocked-out” by a Cuban diplomat who was peeved at the fact that Cuba lost the vote against it.
The US Ambassador to Geneva gave a Press conference after the incident in which he claimed that he saw it all and commented: “If that is how they behave in here at the Commission of Human Rights, what must they do in their own country?”
However, this is not the whole story.
Frank Calzon is not a “Professor of Human Rights” but a CIA operative. His institution, The Centre for a Free Cuba, is one of many that are supported by generous donations from the US government. Last year, he received $3,317,479 from USAID for the purpose of ‘promoting democracy in Cuba.’
Calzon has been in Geneva in order to support the effort by the US government to have Cuba censured. According to the Cuban delegation, this has involved him in such nefarious activities as going around the building picking up Cuban leaflets and reports stating and explaining Cuba's positions, ripping them up and putting them in bins.
He was in the course of doing this when he was caught red-handed by a female member of the Cuban delegation.
When she told him to stop, Calzon turned on her and attempted to grab her. At this point, other women in the Cuban delegation went to her aid and Calzon pushed them. A vociferous fracas ensued. On seeing this, a male member of the delegation joined the melee.
In the words of Juan Antonio Fernández, the head of the Cuban delegation: “It was then that the incident occurred, a left hook and a straight right, smack on the chin.”
Thus the Cubans do not deny the punch, but they dispute the circumstances. The Cuban delegation has issued a note of protest to the UN Secretariat in Geneva concerning the provocative behaviour of not only Frank Calzon but others who have been in Geneva to support the US side.
Cuba asserts that the incident was planned to take place when it did and that it was not a coincidence that the US Ambassador was present to witness it.
The media smokescreen this has thrown up has served to cloud the fact that Cuba on the following day presented a motion attacking the US for its treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.
The vote on the Cuba motion will take place on Wednesday 21 April.
This story was compiled by Steve Wilkinson, editor of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign magazine CubaSi, from reports that were only available in Spanish.
For the full explanation of what happened from the Head of Cuba's Mission in Geneva (in Spanish only) see:
For the BBC coverage of the incident