Cuba Erects Anti-U.S. Sign to Avenge Santa Sign

Cuba (search) responded Thursday to the U.S. diplomats's refusal to take down Christmas decorations by putting up a huge billboard in front of the U.S. Interest Section emblazoned with a swastika and showing photographs of Iraqi prisoners being abused by American soldiers.

The billboard, put up overnight, had a large swastika in red and the word "fascist" covered with a "Made in the U.S.A." stamp. It sat prominently on the Malecon, Havana's coastal highway, facing the mission's offices.

There was no immediate response from American diplomats in Havana.

The U.S. Interest Section, headed by chief James Cason, ignored a demand earlier this week to remove Christmas decorations that included a reference to dissidents jailed by Fidel Castro's (search) government.

The trimmings included a Santa Claus, candy canes and white lights wrapped around palm trees — and a sign reading "75" — a reference to 75 Cuban dissidents jailed last year.

Cuban Parliament Speaker Ricardo Alarcon called the sign "rubbish" this week, and said Cason seems "desperate to create problems."

Cuba had warned the U.S. Interest Section to remove the decorations or face unspecified consequences.

No other officials from Castro's administration have commented on the spat.