MEXICO CITY – The Mexican president asserted his country’s right to send fuel to Cuba and said on Tuesday that US sanctions on the island were “inhumane” after the arrival of a cargo of diesel shipped by the Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos in the port of Havana in Cuba.
Left-wing Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has criticized the US embargo against Cuba and pledged his support for the communist-ruled island, which has been hit by an upsurge in coronavirus infections and an economic crisis that has sparked rare protests this month.
A shipment of humanitarian aid left the Mexican port of Veracruz for Cuba on Tuesday, with another scheduled to leave on Wednesday, carrying food, oxygen tanks and other medical supplies, the Mexican Ministry of Affairs said. foreigners in a press release.
“We are an independent nation,” López Obrador said at a press conference in response to a question of whether the deliveries risked violating the US embargo on the Communist-ruled island.
López Obrador criticized policies which he said made it difficult to dock ships delivering goods to Cuba at US ports, which is one of the main aspects of the embargo.
Mexico’s foreign ministry said the aid was part of a cooperation agreement between Mexico and Cuba.
Authorities in Havana have long said that the decades-old US embargo on Cuba has caused widespread hardship on the island, where thousands have taken to the streets this month during protests.
Cuban Trade Minister Rodrigo Malmierca on Monday welcomed Mexico’s pledge of two aid shipments: “We are not alone,” he said on Twitter.
The US Treasury Department declined to comment, and the State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
John S. Kavulich, president of the New York-based Cuban-American Economic and Trade Council, said there were no specific US sanctions preventing the sale – or donation – of Mexican fuel to Cuba.
“The US embargo on Cuba does not focus on imports from Cuba but on US exports to Cuba,” Kavulich said, adding that the Caribbean island did not appear to be a foreign policy priority for US President Joe. Biden.
López Obrador, who called on Biden on Monday to “make a decision” on the “inhumane” embargo on Cuba, anticipated last week that Mexico would send fuel to generate electricity for hospitals on the island.
The Jose Maria Morelos II, an oil tanker owned and operated by a unit of Pemex, departed last week from the Mexican port of Coatzacoalcos for the Caribbean, according to monitoring data from the oil tanker Refinitiv Eikon.
The ship, which carries some 100,000 barrels of diesel according to the Foreign Ministry statement, did not update its port of destination, but docked at the port of Havana on Monday evening, according to Eikon data. .
It is not yet known which Cuban entity will receive the fuel.
Cuba’s dependence on diesel has grown in recent years, with power plants using fuel oil and crude in dire need of investment and maintenance. The island is also struggling to supply power plants with natural gas, said Jorge Pinon of the University of Texas at Austin.
An oil-for-services deal between Venezuela and Cuba flipped US sanctions against the South American oil producer when in 2019 the US Treasury Department blacklisted a group of oil tanker owners and ships involved in the expeditions, at the request of the Venezuelan opposition.
The Cuban economy has been damaged by the collapse of Venezuela, as well as a collapse in tourism following the global coronavirus pandemic.
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