Haley demands UN punish Cuba, Bolivia after ‘mob scene’ at US event for Cuban political prisoners

EXCLUSIVE -- U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is demanding the U.N. Secretary General take action against the Bolivian and Cuban delegations after they disrupted a U.S. event to draw attention to the plight of political prisoners in Cuba -- damaging U.N. property in the process.

The event on Tuesday, “Jailed for What? The plight of Cuba’s political prisoners,” which took place in the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) chamber, descended into chaos when diplomats from the two countries -- including Bolivian Ambassador Sacha Llorenti -- started banging on tables and screaming slogans in an effort to derail the event. Speakers, including former prisoners and relatives of those currently imprisoned under the communist regime, struggled to be heard over the noise.

In a letter to Secretary General Antonio Guterres, sent Friday and obtained by Fox News, Haley said the behavior by the Cuban and Bolivian diplomats was “outrageous” and called for action from Guterres.


“Due to the outrageous behavior of the Cuban and Bolivian U.N. delegations, this diplomatic event became a mob scene, and resulted in significant damage to U.N. property,” the letter says. “I respectfully call on you to condemn this extremely unprofessional conduct and require the Cuban and Bolivian delegations to pay for the property damage they caused.”

Haley said that the U.N. initially said the U.S would be contacted to pay for the damage to desks and earphones, but U.N. officials eventually said that the U.N. itself would bear the cost.

Haley called this “completely unacceptable” considering the U.S. is the largest contributor to the U.N. budget, and pays 22 percent of the budget -- and therefore of any repair cost as well. Instead, Haley demanded that the Bolivian and Cuban delegations be made to bear the cost.

In a statement to Fox News, Haley was no less scathing in her assessment of the behavior by the delegations.

“Cuba’s UN delegation destroyed property with their juvenile, unprofessional behavior that was a mockery of diplomacy,” she said. “There’s no way the U.N. should pay for those repairs – with U.S. taxpayers footing 22 percent of that bill.  The bill needs to be sent directly to Cuba.”

The Cuban Mission has already demanded an investigation into how the event was allowed to take place, having called it “a political comedy staged on false arguments and with supporting actors of a dark history at the service of a foreign power.”

“It is part of the actions aimed at subverting the legitimately established constitutional order and of the interventionist agenda that has gained renewed momentum under the current administration, whose fascist, racist and xenophobic ideas are a matter of grave concern in the international community,” the statement said.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Guterres, told Fox News Tuesday that missions must certify that public meetings are consistent with the purposes and principles of the U.N. and that they are non-commercial in nature. He said the U.S. had done so with regards to Tuesday's event. He also said that it is not the role of U.N. security to remove disruptive delegates unless they pose a physical threat.

Haley welcomed the Cuban call for an investigation and said that the the U.N. should also investigate the damage and the misconduct by the Cuban and Bolivian delegations -- include removing access to the U.N. for those responsible.

“This conduct was an assault on the dignity, ideals and fundamental purposes of the U.N.” she said.

Photos obtained by Fox News show damage to the desks by delegates.

Dujarric told Fox News that the Secretary General’s office had received the letter and was looking into it. The Bolivian and Cuban missions did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The event on Tuesday still went ahead, with speakers yelling over the protesters, but the U.S. said the event was delayed after the Cuban delegation refused to allow security to conduct a sweep of the chamber.

"I have never in my life seen diplomats behave the way the Cuban delegation did today. It was really shocking and disturbing and it makes you wonder that if the diplomats of this government behave this way, how do the police behave?" U.S. ECOSOC Ambassador Kelley Currie, who led the event and herself had to yell over protesters to be heard, told reporters after the event.


Haley, who is stepping down from her role at Turtle Bay in January, has been vocal in standing for the interests of the U.S. and its allies at the U.N. Last week she criticized the U.N. General Assembly for electing a number of countries with poor human rights records to the controversial Human Rights Council -- including Eritrea, Cameroon, Somalia and Bangladesh.

“This lack of standards continues to undermine the organization and demonstrates again why the United States was right to withdraw from it earlier this year,” she said.

Fox News' Ben Evansky contributed to this report.