The US increased its no-strings-attached offer from $100,000 to $5 million and the Cuban government hastely refused it, instead insisting that the US lift, at least temporarily, its embargo on Cuba and give Cuba access to credits to purchase much-needed food and reconstruction supplies.
Having said "no" to the US indicates the government's unwillingness to put the Cuban people first. Raul's administration is showing profound similarities, to Fidel's by chosing to play politics at a time like this...the only problem for Raul is that he is not nearly as good as Fidel when it comes to playing politics. By chosing to emulate his brother instead of walking his own path, I believe Raul condemns his himself. Hopefully, he will not at the same time condemn the Cuban people (more than they've already been).
Cuba rejects U.S. aid, asks embargo rules be lifted
Posted on Mon, Sep. 15, 2008
BY FRANCES ROBLES
Cuba has rejected a $5 million offer for relief assistance from Washington, saying it cannot accept help from a country with an economic embargo against it, and instead renewed its request to allow the communist country to make purchases with credit.
In a statement made public Monday, the Cuban government asked Washington for a six-month reprieve on embargo rules that prohibit the communist country from making purchases from American companies, saying devastation from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike make it critical.
Washington and Havana have been embroiled in a diplomatic dispute over hurricane aid since Hurricane Gustav smashed into western Cuba on Aug. 30. Washington offered $100,000 and a humanitarian assessment team, and the Cuban Foreign Ministry answered by saying what it needed was purchasing credits.
Havana sent a second, more harshly worded note last week when Washington made the same offer after Hurricane Ike devastated eastern Cuba. The statement released Thursday called U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutiérrez a hypocrite, and said U.S. diplomats were cynical liars.
Washington's decision to limit the offer to $100,000 was criticized in some circles, who noted that the U.S. government normally spends millions in such disaster relief.
On Saturday, U.S. diplomats met in Washington with Cuban counterparts, and upped the offer to $5 million.
''We regret that they have not accepted this offer,'' State Department spokeswoman Heide Bronke said. ``We are considering Cuba's request to purchase other reconstruction materials on case by case consistent with U.S. law.''
United States law allows Cuba to make cash agricultural purchases, but does not allow Cuba to buy with credit. Cuba's request for a six-month reprieve would likely require an act of Congress.
Cuba's diplomatic note Sunday, released Monday, takes a much softer tone.
''The Cuban Interests Section in Washington wishes to communicate to the government of the United States that our country cannot accept a donation from the country that blockades us, although it is willing to purchase the indispensable materials that the North American companies export to the markets, and requests authorization for the provision of same, as well as the credits that are normal in all commercial operations,'' the statement said.
``If the government of the United States does not wish to do so permanently, the government of Cuba requests that at least it do so during the next six months, especially if the damage caused by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike is taken into account, as well as the fact that the most dangerous months of the hurricane season are still ahead.''
Last week Gutiérrez said the Cuban government is behind on payments to many of its creditors, and suggested that the request for credits was a pretext.
''Do they really want us to extend their credits?'' he said.