WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 -- Living up to her billing as someone who will pull no punches, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says Cuba continues to be an 'embarrassment' to the Western Hemisphere. Albright made a slight nod of recognition to Canada, whose top envoy visited Cuba this week and came away with rhetorical concessions on human rights, saying 'it was important' that Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy raised the issue.
But she emphasized that Canada and the rest of the world should not 'have a romantic view of (Cuban President) Fidel Castro' and efforts to coerce political changes in Havana must continue. During her first day on the job as America's top diplomat, Albright says, 'Cuba is an embarrassment to the Western Hemisphere, and we ought to keep making clear that there needs to be a change there.' The spitting match between Cuban officials and Albright dates back to last year when Havana's air forces shot down two unarmed civilian aircraft piloted by Cuban-American reactionaries who intentionally baited Castro by flying near his airspace. Transcripts made available after the incident revealed that a Cuban pilot said he had shot off one of the American flier's cojones, which literally means testicles in Spanish. Albright, who was the Clinton administration's U.N. representative at the time, said in public session that the action of the Cuban pilots was 'cowardice not cojones,' a word also used to describe somone who is brave and tough. ----
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