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Vol. 76/No. 1      January 2, 2012

‘Rain is welcome,’ says
Raúl Castro in Trinidad
Washington insists that the U.S. embargo of Cuba is nobody’s business but Washington’s. At least that’s what the U.S. representatives assert every year when the U.N. General Assembly votes overwhelmingly to oppose U.S. economic sanctions.

That argument doesn’t hold much water in Trinidad and Tobago. At the last minute, the Dec. 8 summit between Cuba and Caricom, a trade bloc of 15 Caribbean nations, had to be moved out of the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The Centre, although owned by the government of Trinidad and Tobago, is managed by U.S.-owned Hilton Worldwide.

In a Dec. 5 press statement Hilton Worldwide said that it had applied for a license from the U.S. government to allow the summit and the Cuban delegation to be hosted there but “we have been informed that one will not be granted.”

The statement noted that “the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the U.S. Department of the Treasury generally prohibits U.S.-based companies from providing any services that benefit the Cuban Government unless specifically licensed.” The summit was moved to the National Academy for the Performing Arts.

“How can the USA determine who should stay at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre?” the Communication Workers Union, which represents the majority of workers at the Hilton, asked in a statement.

“It is unacceptable to have companies operating in Trinidad and Tobago under U.S. laws which disregard our sovereign laws and policies,” said a Dec. 10 editorial in Trinidad and Tobago News.

The first Cuba-Caricom summit took place in Havana on Dec. 8, 200. The meeting decided to hold a summit every three years on that date.

Cuban President Raúl Castro was met with a 21-gun salute when he arrived at the airport the day before the summit. In spite of pouring rain, Castro insisted on reviewing a line of Trinidad and Tobago troops. When Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persard-Bissessar lamented the rain, Castro smiled and said, “Rain is welcome, drought is bad news,” reported the Cuban paper Granma.
Related articles:
Washington peddles lies, demands Cuba release convicted US agent
Art by Cuban 5 prisoner opens in Seattle
Cuban statement on Alan Gross case  
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