Friday, August 06, 2004

TT: Down but not out?

Despite US efforts to strangle the flow of dollars to Cuba and fresh exchanges of acrimony between Presidents George Bush and Fidel Castro, the cash-strapped Cuban government intends to make record US food purchases this year, according to its chief international shopper.

"By the end of August, Cuba will have purchased in eight months as much as it did in the whole previous year,'' said Pedro Alvarez, head of Alimport, the government's food procurement enterprise.

Cash purchases of US food have grown exponentially since November 2001, when hurricane-ravaged Cuba began taking advantage of the first breach of a trade embargo imposed in 1960 and maintained through ten successive US presidencies. Cuban purchases from what is now its biggest food supplier, already nearing the US$300 million mark by the end of July, are set to exceed US$440 million this year, Alvarez said in an interview.

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