Catholic World News News Feature
Castro Refuses US Aid, Demands Embargo End February 03, 1998
HAVANA (CWN) - Cuban President Fidel Castro on Tuesday strongly rejected a proposal by Cuban exile groups in the United States to provide food and medical aid to needy Cubans while continuing the 36-year-old embargo against the Communist country.
"The Cuban government, with all the dignity in the world and in the name of the Cuban people who are a symbol of the greatest dignity in the world, says 'no'," Castro said with strong emotion. "The idea consists in offering humanitarian aid with humiliating conditions and maintaining a rigorous blockade." Castro refused the aid in a four-hour television appearance that continued into the early hours of Tuesday morning which focused on Pope John Paul's visit to the country last month.
The proposal voiced by the Cuban American National Federation and supported by Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, would earmark food and medicine for Cuba through the Food for Poor program, but the exile group has said the point of the program is to humiliate Castro as being unable to provide for his people. "It (the plan) is a repugnant and immoral maneuver, a rude reply to the Pope's proposals ... an insult to the Cuban religious institutions and a challenge to the (Cuban) people who resist and will resist with honour," Castro said. "Cuba is not begging, Cuba is not asking for humanitarian aid, Cuba is asking for the end of the blockade." Castro said he did support a proposal in the US Congress that would modify the proposal to allow food and medicine sales to Cuba.