Thursday, December 16, 2004
On this day:


Controversial Christmas decorations remain up at the U.S. Interest Section in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2004, a day after Cuban officials warned the top American diplomat on the island there would be consequences if they were not taken down. The item that most irks the Cuban authorities is a sign that says

It's great to see the U.S. State Department standing up for 75 Cuban dissidents jailed by the murderous thug Fidel Castro.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday rejected Cuba's demand to remove Christmas lights in front of the American mission in Havana, saying the display shows solidarity with local prisoners of conscience.

Cuba threatened retaliation but State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the mission "has put up decorations like this, Christmas tree lights, for years, and
we do not plan on taking down our holiday decorations until the holidays are over."

The display includes the number 75, in reference to 75 pro-democracy activists imprisoned in Cuba. There is an international campaign to free them.

"It shows our solidarity with Cubans who struggle for democracy and freedom ... It's a remembrance in the season of peace that there are people who don't have peace at this season," Boucher told a news briefing.

James Cason, the chief of the U.S. mission in Cuba, said, "As part of our holiday celebrations, we also displayed a '75' symbol as a reminder of those arrested for thinking and speaking independently."