STATEMENT BY THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Yesterday, September 9, 2008, at 11:50 A.M., the Department of State conveyed to the Interests Section of Cuba in Washington Note Nº 252/18 in which, after expressing its regrets for the additional damage caused to the Cuban people by hurricane Ike, it insists in the visit to our country of a “humanitarian assessment team” to “inspect the affected areas”.
Today, September 10, at 7:20 P.M. the Interests Section of Cuba in Washington sent to the Department of State Note Nº 046/08, in which it conveys its appreciation for the expressions of regret by the Government of the United States for the damage caused in Cuba by hurricane Ike, and reiterates that Cuba does not require the assistance of a humanitarian assessment team as it has a sufficient number of trained specialists to deal with this task. The Note emphasizes that if the Government of the United States is really willing to cooperate with the Cuban people it is requested to allow the sale to Cuba of indispensable material, such as materials for roofing, for building repairs and for the re-establishment of electric networks.
Likewise, it reiterates the request that the Government of the United States suspend the restrictions preventing U.S. companies from providing private commercial credits to Cuba for the purchase of foodstuffs in the United States.
The Note also calls the attention of the Department of State that the visit to Cuba of a humanitarian assessment team is not required to allow the sale of the aforementioned materials and to authorize private credits for the purchase of foodstuffs.
Lastly, the Note of the Interests Section of Cuba underscores to the Department of State that its Note Nº 252/18 insists in a request that the Government of Cuba had already replied to in Note Nº 1886 of September 6, 2008, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but, and it is highly significant, it does not actually respond to the two concrete requests made by the Government of Cuba to the Government of the United States in order to cope with the damage caused by hurricane Gustav, that it once again reiterates.
On the other hand, during the last few hours, spokespersons of the Government of the United States have attempted to justify the refusal by President Bush to allow the sale to Cuba of indispensable materials and to authorize private commercial credits to purchase foodstuffs in the U.S.
Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, affirmed categorically on Sunday, September 7: “I don’t think that (…) the lifting of the embargo would be wise”.
The Spokesman of the Department of State, Sean McCormack, insisted, on Monday, September 8, in a press briefing, on the alleged importance that Cuba accept an assessment team to inspect damage “in situ”. Responding to the observation of journalists that other countries have provided assistance without demanding a previous inspection of damage in the field, McCormack responded evasively: “”See if the Cuban Government changes its mind about allowing us to help the Cuban people”.
On his part, the Cuban American Carlos Gutiérrez, U.S. Commerce Secretary and Co-Chairman of the commission in charge of implementing the Bush Plan against Cuba, expressed hypocritically yesterday: “…we reiterate our offer to allow a USAID team to travel to Cuba to assess the situation”.
This is a cynical attitude of the Government of the United States. It attempts to suggest that it is desperate to cooperate with Cuba, and that we are the ones refusing. It lies shamelessly.
Why does the Government of the United States insist in the pretext of carrying out an inspection “in situ” when the information disseminated regarding the serious effects caused by the hurricanes in Cuba is widespread and obvious?
Why does it use the precondition of sending an inspection team, something that no one else has done among the scores of countries that are already generously cooperating with Cuba?
Why does the Government of the United States refuse to allow Cuba to purchase materials for building repairs, roofing or components the re-establishment of electrical networks in the U.S.?
Why does if forbid U.S. companies and their subsidiaries in all countries, to provide Cuba with private credit for the purchase of foodstuffs, which today are essential to ensure food for the affected population and to replace reserves in the event of new hurricanes?
These are the questions that the U.S. Government must answer.
These are the questions that the international community, that overwhelmingly supports Cuba in its struggle against the blockade, poses to the Government of the United States.
Cuba has not asked the Government of the United States for any gift whatsoever. Simply to be allowed to purchase.
Anything else is pure rhetoric, pretexts and justifications that no one believes.
Cuba will go forward. No hurricane, blockade or aggression will be able to prevent it.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba Havana, September 10, 2008