The same lie twice over

Reading the cables will suffice.

In the reflection I wrote the day before yesterday I stated that Cuba would not accept any donation from the government that is blockading us and that, in the Verbal Note handed over to the U.S. Interests Section, we had requested authorization so that U.S. companies could sell us construction materials; that same Note made no reference whatsoever to foodstuffs. There was an additional request for trade in those materials to take place under normal conditions, including credits, something that is only logical considering that, for eight years, our country has been paying in cash for the few commodities that U.S. companies are authorized to export to Cuba.

Such a request was all the more justified in the face of the emergency situation created as a result of the ravages of the hurricanes.

It was precisely George W. Bush who, after Hurricane Michelle violently lashed the island on November 4, 2001, authorized the sale of agricultural produce to Cuba, which included lumber as a product derived from silviculture, which is highly developed in that nation. He did not insist on any in situ inspection when, as is currently the case, we responded that we had already completed such an inspection. In the main, we imported foodstuffs. Within a few weeks we had imported $4.4 million dollars worth, once all the relevant procedures were rapidly finalized.

In 2002, we purchased $173.6 million in goods; in 2003, $327 million; in 2004, $434.1 million; in 2005, $473 million; in 2006, $483.3 million; in 2007, $515.8 million, and during the first semester of 2008, $425 million. As can be seen, the figures have increased year by year, and this year, after the devastating impact caused by two hurricanes, it is possible that the country would have to import a much higher volume from the United States alone, especially taking into account that prices have risen significantly and the colossal blow that has been dealt to agriculture.

The government of that country informed world public opinion that it had authorized the sale of foodstuffs and lumber, as if this was a new decision related to the two hurricanes, Gustav and Ike. A total and complete joke.

What did the State Department spokesperson say?

On Sunday, September 14 he declared that, as soon as Hurricane Gustav reached Cuba, the United States authorized $250 million in agricultural sales to the island, including lumber. Prior to that, the U.S. secretary of commerce had ruled out any commercial credits.

Again on September 16, the State Department announced that the United States had authorized some licenses for food aid after the disaster caused by the two hurricanes, and that those agricultural licenses included ‘lumber, an important material for reconstruction.”

In addition to the lies, what were the arguments with which they tried to justify the prohibition on U.S. companies facilitating normal trade credits to Cuba? “The government of the United States has to respect Congress laws.” One would suppose that the blockade is a congressional law by virtue of a perfidious Platt Amendment-type provision. The president of the United States can declare war without consulting Congress – something unheard of in the history of that country – but cannot, however, authorize a U.S. company to trade with Cuba under normal conditions.

In the message sent to Hugo Chávez, president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which described some of the experiences of our Revolution, I wrote that, due to the “ruthless and absolute economic blockade, it is not possible to purchase one single kilogram of food. This changed slightly 30 years later, due to pressure exerted by farmers, but this policy was accompanied by leonine financial and monetary obstacles.” The Venezuelan revolutionary leader partially disclosed that message himself.

Everything is obvious and clear.

In resorting to the same lie twice over, the State Department has had no qualms over deceiving world public opinion, and it is doing so in a cynical manner.

Fidel Castro Ruz
September 18, 2008