A top Cuban official Thursday issued a flat denial of a Wall Street Journal story that alleged Cuba and China had reached an agreement to install an eavesdropping facility on the island.
Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío issued a strongly worded statement, calling the newspaper’s information “totally mendacious and unfounded.”
“They are all fallacies promoted with the perfidious intention to justify the unprecedented intensification of the blockade, the destabilization and aggression toward Cuba and to deceive public opinion in the United States and the world,” Fernández de Cossío said.
According to the Journal, U.S. officials with access to “highly classified intelligence” said China would pay Cuba “several billion dollars” to install a base roughly 100 miles south of Florida.
The base would be used to intercept electronic communications throughout the southeastern United States and to monitor ship traffic, according to the report.
The Pentagon also denied the claims in the report, with Defense Department press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder calling it “inaccurate” several times.
“Certainly we know that China and Cuba maintain a relationship of sorts, but when it comes to the specific activities outlines in the press reporting, based on the information we have, that is not accurate,” Ryder said. “We are not aware of China and Cuba developing any type of spy station.”
Fernández de Cossío in his statement blamed U.S. officials for fabricating the story, taking aim at other issues that have spiked tensions across the Straits of Florida.
“Lies of this type have been fabricated frequently by United States officials, who are apparently familiar with intelligence, like those referring to supposed sonic attacks against United States diplomatic personnel, the falsehood about the nonexistent Cuban military presence in Venezuela and the lie about the imaginary existence of biological weapons labs,” Fernández de Cossío said.
Fernández de Cossío added that notwithstanding “the sovereign rights that Cuba has in matters of defense,” the country is party to a 2014 Community of Latin American and Caribbean States declaration of the region as a “zone of peace.”
“In virtue of that, we reject any foreign military presence in Latin America annd the Caribbean, including the numerous bases y military personnel from the United States, especially the military base that illegally occupies a portion of national territory in the province of Guantánamo,” he said.
Updated at 5:19 p.m. Brad Dress contributed.