Storm-lashed Cuba asks US to ease embargo
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Rejecting a US offer to send storm victims aid through relief organizations, Cuba has instead called on Washington to sell it relief supplies, which would entail an amendment to the US trade embargo on Cuba.
Cuba on Saturday rejected a U.S. offer to send victims of Hurricane Gustav $100,000 in aid through relief organizations and said Washington instead should sell it relief supplies and allow food sales on credit.
The Foreign Ministry said Washington should "allow the sale to Cuba of those materials considered indispensable and 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."
The Bush administration permitted the sale of food to Cuba for cash after Hurricane Michelle lashed the communist-run island nation in 2001.
The sales, allowed under an amendment to the decades-old U.S. trade embargo, have continued since then. But proposals in Congress to permit banks and companies to supply credit for the goods are opposed by the White House.
Cuba indicated it was not opposed to calls by some Democrats, including presidential candidate Barack Obama and some Cuban-American organizations, to suspend for 90 days U.S. curbs on visits, remittances and gifts to people in Cuba.
"The travel and remittance restrictions on Cuban residents in the United States should never have been applied. It is not Cuba, but the United States that restricts their rights," the ministry said.
The Bush administration rejected the idea earlier this week.
Gustav slammed into western Cuba with winds of 150 mph (240 kph) on Aug. 30, damaging or destroying 100,000 houses and dealing a blow to agriculture.
Hurrican Ike is now charging toward Cuba. It was expected to arrive late on Sunday, presenting a severe threat to sugar cane fields, the tourist hotels of Varadero and the crumbling colonial buildings of Havana.
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