Cuba’s foreign minister on Tuesday lashed out at the Trump administration for “complacent silence” following a shooting at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC, and for trying to thwart Cuban efforts to battle the coronavirus.
“In the midst of the pandemic, the Secretary of State Mr. [Mike] Pompeo is constantly advocating against Cuban medical cooperation and slandered Cuban medical doctors instead of saying one word about the terrorist attack that happened a few blocks not only from the White House but from the State Department,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla told CNN in an interview on Tuesday.
Rodriguez Parrilla said the US government has shown little cooperation following the incident in April when a man opened fire on the Embassy, riddling the front of the building with gunfire. He said the State Department has been slow to share information and that senior administration officials failed to condemn the attack.
“The attacker confessed that he aimed to kill. It’s a very serious issue,” Rodriguez Parrilla told CNN. “Can you imagine that which would be the US reaction in a similar case of a similar attack against an American embassy anywhere in the world?”
The Trump administration has tightened economic sanctions on Cuba and asked countries not to accept Cuban medical assistance to fight the coronavirus outbreak, arguing that the doctors and nurses Cuba sends are underpaid and used for propaganda purposes.
But the US State Department said that despite political differences, Cuban diplomats are safe in the US.
“The Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service works closely with law enforcement agencies to protect and maintain the security and safety of foreign missions in the United States,” said a statement issued by the US Embassy in Havana on Tuesday. “The US law enforcement process is transparent with strict jurisprudence and many records about cases and court proceedings publicly available.”
Cuban citizen arrested for attack
Embassy surveillance video of the incident released by the Cuban government to CNN showed the alleged assailant arriving by car at around 2 am ET on April 30th and opening fire through a fence with an automatic weapon.
The video shows white plumes of smoke in the dark night air as a fusillade of bullets hit the front of the Embassy, breaking a window and piercing a metal statue of Cuban revolutionary hero Jose Martí. Nobody was injured, although 10 Cuban diplomats and staff were inside and bullets entered the building.
Police arrested Alexander Alazo, a Cuban citizen living in the US, and charged him with possessing an unregistered firearm and assault with intent to kill as well as charges related to attacking a foreign embassy. Alazo is currently detained awaiting trial.
Police said they recovered an AK-47 and 32 spent shells from the scene, according to court documents. A gasoline-soaked Cuban flag was also recovered from the scene with hand-written messages including “Trump 2020,” according to the documents.
In the documents, police say Alazo told them that he had been hearing voices and attacked the Embassy “because he wanted to get them before they got him, referring to the Cuban government.”
Alazo told investigators he was afraid Cuban “criminal organizations” might be tracking him and had been living out of his car for nine months before the Embassy attack.
A court-appointed attorney for Alazo did not return messages from CNN requesting comment Tuesday.
Rodriguez Parrilla said Alazo had completed his military service on the island and had no history of criminal conduct or mental illness before he moved to Mexico in 2003 and then to the US. He’d also returned to Cuba eight times and had worked as a pastor on the island, he said.