Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cuba Responds to US Offer


On 3rd September last, at 4:45 P.M., the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Thomas Shannon, delivered to the Head of the Interest Section of Cuba in Washington, Note Nº 646, which states “its deepest regret for the destruction caused by hurricane Gustav” and affirms that the United States would be prepared to “offer immediate and initial humanitarian assistance of relief supplies to the Cuban people through an appropriate international relief organization”.

An identical Note was later sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the United States Interests Section in Havana.

In said Note, the U.S. Government also requests the Cuban Government to “allow a United States humanitarian assessment team to visit Cuba to inspect the affected areas to properly assess damage”.

On Saturday 6 September, at 8:55 A.M., the Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered to the State Department, through the Interests Section of Cuba in Washington, and simultaneously to the United States Interests Section in Havana, its Note Nº 1866 conveying its appreciation for the expressions of regret by the Government of the United States due to the destruction caused in our country by hurricane Gustav.

The Note also states that Cuba does not require the assistance of a humanitarian assessment team to assess the damage and needs, as it has a sufficient number of specialists, which practically have concluded that task.

The Note of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also expresses that if the Government of the United States is really willing to cooperate with the Cuban people in face of the tragedy of the hurricane, it is requested to allow the sale to Cuba of those materials considered indispensable and to suspend the restrictions that prevent U.S. companies from offering private commercial credits to our country for the purchase of food in the United States.

A widespread public debate has emerged during the last few hours in the United States regarding the position that should be adopted by the U.S. Government due to of the severe damage caused by hurricane Gustav in Cuba.

During the afternoon of 4 September, the Democratic Presidential Candidate, Barack Obama, requested the suspension, for no less than 90 days, of restrictions to travel, remittances and assistance by Cuban residents in the United States to their families in Cuba.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers that the restrictions to travel and send remittances by persons of Cuban origin residing in the United States should have never been applied. It is not Cuba but the United States who deprives persons of Cuban origin from the exercise of this right.

If these rights were to be returned to the Cubans as a result of humanitarian reasons, there would be no way to explain that said prohibition, equally unjust and discriminatory, would be retained for U.S. citizens.

Now, when the Eastern part of the country is already in hurricane watch as a result of the threat posed by hurricane Ike, as powerful as Gustav, Cuba reaffirms that, in all truth, the only correct and ethical action, in correspondence with International Law and the practically unanimous will of the U.N. General Assembly, would be to eliminate totally and permanently the ruthless and cruel economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed against our Motherland for almost half a century. It includes the persecution of Cuban commercial and financial operations in third countries and which, according to conservative calculations, causes yearly damages higher than those caused by hurricane Gustav.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba

September 6 2008

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