MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico, accusing former ally Cuba of interfering in its internal affairs, withdrew its ambassador from Havana on Sunday as relations hit an all-time low in a dispute over Cuba’s human rights record.
“Mexico does not and will not tolerate under any circumstance any foreign government trying to affect our decisions on foreign or domestic policy,” Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez told a news conference.
Mexico was for decades a close ally of the communist-run island in its fight against a U.S. embargo but the two countries drifted apart when President Vicente Fox swung Mexico closer to Washington after taking power in 2000.
Derbez said Mexico had asked Cuba to pull its envoy out of Mexico City within 48 hours. A spokesman for the Cuban government said Havana had no immediate comment on the Mexican decision.
Interior Minister Santiago Creel also said two Cuban government officials in Mexico had been found “carrying out activities incompatible with their status,” a term often used by governments to denote spying.
Creel did not give details of what the Cubans, high-ranking members of the Communist Party, were alleged to have done in Mexico, where they spend several days in April.
Mexican-Cuban relations deteriorated sharply last month when Mexico voted to censure Cuba at a U.N. rights body.
Then on Saturday, in a May Day speech, President Fidel Castro harshly criticized Mexico for the vote, saying Mexico’s prestige in the world had “turned into ashes.”
Mexico said last week it would hand Cuba a diplomatic note — a form of serious protest — over comments it made about a corruption scandal in Mexico.