Embassy Row

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MR. PONCE PACKS UP

One thing Cuban diplomat Jose Luis Ponce apparently won't miss back in Havana is The Washington Times.

An editorial last week accused all Cuban diplomats of "massive spying" and bade good riddance to the spokesman for the Cuban Interests Section.

"I didn't like the editorial in The Washington Times that said I should go, but it is good for my resume in Havana," Mr. Ponce told our correspondent Tom Carter at a farewell party Friday night.

Mr. Ponce was kicked out of the United States in retaliation for Havana's expulsion of an American diplomat for distributing pro-democracy literature to Cuban dissidents.

It wasn't much of a blow. He was scheduled to leave next month anyway after three years in Washington.

About 100 friends joined Mr. Ponce at the Cuban Interests Section on 16th Street NW to munch on Cuban ham-and-cheese sandwiches and sip mojitos, a Cuban concoction of lime juice, rum, sugar and mint.

Much of the cocktail party discussion centered on the dismal state of Cuban-U.S. bilateral relations and the upcoming U.S. elections.

"It doesn't matter to the Cuban government who is elected," said one Cuban diplomat, who asked not to be identified. "We all know nothing can happen until after the elections."

Mr. Ponce was scheduled to fly back to Havana with his wife and 6-year-old daughter yesterday.

The State Department revoked his visa after Cuba on Thursday expelled Robin Meyer, a human rights monitor at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.

Cuba complained that she distributed copies of George Orwell's "Animal Farm," a scathing indictment of totalitarian government published in 1945, 14 years before the Cuban Revolution. Havana also objected to her distribution of a book of quotes from Cuban independence hero Jose Marti. Havana said the book "distorted" Marti's life and views. The Cuban Foreign Ministry also accused her of giving out literature from the Republican Party and the AFL-CIO.

The titles included the "Guide to Resources for a Transition in Cuba" and "How to Organize a Trade Union Meeting." She also handed out copies of the U. …