The U.S.'s troubled relationship with Cuba took another turn this weekend, with revelations that Florida congresswoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) would "welcome" the assassination of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. According to the Miami Herald:

Facing the camera with a statue of a giant gold eagle on her desk, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen talks casually about how proud she is to represent Cuban ''freedom fighters'' living in exile in Miami and on the island.

Then the Miami Republican -- recently tapped to become the top Republican on the House International Relations Committee -- says, "I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people.''

The 28-second snippet appears on the website for a new British documentary, 638 Ways to Kill Castro, and is making a stir in the blogosphere, where some viewers have questioned Ros-Lehtinen's suitability for the House committee post.

You can view the clip here:


Today, the New York Times reports that Ros-Lehtinen insists that the clip of her statement is a spliced fabrication. But the denial was qualified:

A spokesman for Ros-Lehtinen said she's never called for anyone's assassination, but Ros-Lehtinen said she can't rule out that she ever mentioned Castro and a potential assassination.

"If someone were to do it, I wouldn't be crying," she said.

Like evangelist Pat Robertson's call last year for U.S. special forces to "take out" Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Ros-Lehtinen's words ignited a fresh round of anti-American sentiment in Cuba and Latin America.

Ros-Lehtinen's words come not long after the Miami Herald revealed that at least 10 South Florida journalists, including three from El Nuevo Herald, had been regularly paid by the U.S. government to participate in programs on Radio and TV Martí, the $15 million-a-year questionable U.S. effort to depose Castro:

Radio and TV Martí were created by the U.S. government to promote U.S.-style democracy in Cuba by bringing news, entertainment and information meant to help undermine the communist government of Fidel Castro.

 

Since 2001, El Nuevo Herald staff reporter Pablo Alfonso, who wrote an opinion column and covered Cuba, was paid almost $175,000 to host programs on Radio and TV Martí. In the same period, staff writer Wilfredo Cancio, who covered the Cuban exile community and politics, received almost $15,000.

Olga Connor, an El Nuevo Herald freelance reporter who wrote about Cuban culture, received about $71,000.

Both Alfonso and Cancio were dismissed, and Connor's relationship with The Miami Herald was terminated [...] Miami Herald executive editor Tom Fiedler said in a separate interview that accepting such payments violates widely accepted standards of journalistic ethics.