Monday, February 06, 2006
EDITORIAL: Mean spiritedness and hatred toward Cuba and scorn for the Mexican government inundate the Sheraton
Havana. February 6, 2006
THE tentacles of the blockade and the criminal U.S. economic war on Cuba are ready to extend further into any confine of the planet, even to the detriment of the sovereignty and legislatures of other countries.
This has just been the case in Mexico, where a Cuban business delegation was removed from the María Isabel Sheraton Hotel in the Federal District on the express orders of the U.S. Treasury Department.
The Cubans were to meet there with important U.S. companies and enterprises interested in the energy market potential on the island.
Organized by the U.S.-Cuba Trade Association, the event was open to the press and had the participation of the directors from the Valero Energy Corporation, the largest refinery in the United States, the National Council of Foreign Trade and companies like Exxon Mobile and Caterpillar.
Also present were members of the Economic Development Department of state of Louisiana and the Texan port of Corpus Christi.
The Cuban delegation was made up of 16 officials, headed by Raúl Pérez del Prado, deputy minister of Basic Industry, who were expelled from the María Isabel Sheraton last Friday (February 3). The deposit paid by the Cuban delegation for a three-night stay was retained by the hotel management and sent to swell the multimillion sum of Cuban assets that the U.S. government keeps frozen in U.S. banks in an illegal and arbitrary manner.
The U.S. entrepreneurs at the meeting condemned the eviction of the Cuban mission ordered from Washington.
The Sheraton Hotel, located on Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City and owned by the Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide company, based in Phoenix, Arizona, cancelled a contract with the then National Tourism Institute of Cuba in 1992, arguing the application of the Torricelli Act that bans foreign enterprises and their subsidiaries from establishing trade links with the island.
This time Ellen Gallo, spokeswoman for the company, affirmed that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) attached to the U.S. Treasury Department, ordered the application of Helms-Burton Act on its hotel in the Mexican capital. Gallo herself acknowledged that the money paid to the hotel by the Cuban delegation was sent to the OFAC by the express order of that dependency.
According to El Universal daily, Judith Bryan, spokesperson for the U.S. embassy, argued that as the property belonged to a U.S. enterprise, the hotel had to obey U.S. laws.
Given that affront, the Cuban-U.S. meeting, the sixth bringing together the two nations, had to be transferred to the Colón Misión Hotel, where deputy minister Pérez del Prado publicly condemned the absurd, shameful and irrational nature of the Sheraton events and highlighted how unusual it was for U.S. extraterritorial laws to be applied in the sister republic of Mexico.
The national press stated that the Mexican government had kept out of the incident. “It is a private matter,” said the secretary of foreign relations via the Social Communication Office, according to the Milenio daily.
La Jornada, for its part, qualified the execution of the anti-Cuban Helms-Burton Act as unacceptable and totally reprehensible, and which makes Mexican legislation vulnerable.
For the Cubans the OFAC order, which included denying the delegation members food or movement through the Sheraton corridors, came as no surprise.
For more than 46 years Cuba has been confronting the inhuman and criminal blockade rejected by the vote of 182 countries, including Mexico, in the UN General Assembly.
Thus the issue of the blockade is not a question of “a private matter," far less so when in its execution, the Washington government violates the laws of other countries, where this abhorrent and unacceptable act has caused indignation in political, social and commercial sectors.
The longest blockade in history is a disgrace on the part of the imperial power that has elected itself the world gendarme and is trying to asphyxiate through hunger 11 million Cubans.
But it is also an insult to the people of Benito Juárez, who have suffered in the flesh the voracity of their powerful neighbor.
Once again, imperial arrogance and prepotency has tried to close down a respectful and fruitful meeting between citizens of the two nations. It is a reflection of its impotence in the face of the growing opposition to its absurd and criminal policy in broad sectors of the United States. It is an expression of fear at the strength of the Revolution, its economic prospects, the success of the energy strategy that is revolutionizing the country. This administration is constantly revealing itself more filled with hatred, low dealing and repugnant and cowardly mean spiritedness.