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Cuba Lifting the Blockade is the Only Ethical Thing Washington could Do
In a statement issued in Havana the Cuban Foreign Ministry recalled that last Wednesday, September 3, at 4:45, US Under-secretary of State of the Western Hemisphere, Thomas Shannon, handed over to the chief of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington a verbal note expressing his deepest sorrow for the destruction caused by hurricane Gustav.

He said the United States would be ready to offer immediate and initial humanitarian aid to the Cuban people through an appropriate international assistance organization.

The Cuban Foreign Minister also recalls that a similar note was later sent in by the US Interest Section in Havana.

In that note, the statement reads, the US administration also asks the Cuban Government to allow a humanitarian evaluation group to visit Cuba in order to inspect the areas affected and appropriately assess the damage. The statement reads that on Saturday, September 6, at 8:55 a.m., the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent its note number 1886 to the US Department of State, through the Cuban Interest Section in Washington and at the same time to the US Interest Section in Havana.

In that note, reads the statement, the Cuban Foreign Ministry appreciates the expressions of sorrow by the US government due to the damage inflicted on the country by hurricane Gustav.

The note also explains that Cuba does not need the assistance of any humanitarian evaluation group to assess the damage and needs, since the country has enough experts, who have practically concluded that task.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry said that if the US administration is really willing to cooperate with the Cuban people amidst the tragedy caused by Gustav, it should allow the sale to Cuba of essential goods and lift the restrictions preventing US companies from offering private commercial credits so that Cuba may purchase foodstuffs in the United States.

The statement recalls that over the past few hours increasing public debate has taken place in the U.S. about the position to be assumed by Washington after Gustav hard hit Cuba. On September 4, presidential candidate Barack Obama asked for the lifting for not less than 90 days of travel and remittance restrictions on Cuba, so that US-based Cubans could help their relatives on the archipelago, the declaration explains.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry considered that restrictions on travel and remittances for US citizens of Cuban origin should have never been implemented. It is the United States and not Cuba that deprives those persons of those rights, the declaration points out.

The Cuban Foreign Affairs Ministry stressed that if such rights were re- established for Cubans on the basis of humanitarian reasons, such restriction-unfair and discriminatory of US citizens, would have no reason to keep in force.

When eastern Cuba is already under the alert stage in the face of hurricane Ike, Cuba reaffirms that the only correct, ethical thing to do, in tune with International Law and the almost unanimous will of the UN General Assembly, is the total and definitive lifting of the cruel economic, commercial and financial blockade that Washington has imposed on Cuba for nearly 50 years now, the declaration points out and adds that such a blockade includes the persecution of Cuban financial and commercial operations in third countries.

According to conservative data, the US blockade inflicts damages on Cuba which are worse than the damage caused by hurricane Gustav, Concludes the declaration by the Cuban Foreign Affairs Ministry.

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