(CNSNews.com) - Although he and his government continue to denounce America and all it stands for, Cuban leader Fidel Castro plans to purchase a second shipment of food from the United States.
BBC Radio reported Thursday that Castro told a visiting American delegation he wanted to buy food and agricultural products, as long as the United States government remained flexible on granting licenses to American firms that want to do business with the Castro government.
Last December, Cuba bought $35 million dollars' worth of wheat, soybeans, rice and corn from the U.S. after its own crops were devastated by Hurricane Michelle.
At the time, Castro government officials said there would be no more food purchases from the U.S. unless the Bush administration relaxed the longstanding U.S. trade embargo.
However, after a lengthy meeting this week with Castro, an American delegation said Cuba had dropped its demands.
"We were advised by President Castro that there is still a need for a humanitarian product. He indicated he would like to re-establish the reserves to help them recover from Hurricane Michelle and also to help in case of future emergency situations," Jim Summer, president of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Export Council, told the BBC.
According to Summer, Castro also said that if the remaining limitations on licenses to sell food to Cuba were lifted, U.S. trade eventually could account for more than half the island's food supply.
President Bush has repeatedly said he will not lift the economic embargo against Cuba until Castro frees all political prisoners and allows free and fair elections.
The Cuban-American National Foundation suggests Castro is using Hurricane Michelle as an excuse to get more money out of the United States.
"It's clear that the Cubans are using the hurricane as a way to avoid acknowledging the embarrassing about-face they have done in recent months. It is also clear that Cuba has used up all of the credit that they can get from the Europeans and others, and they are desperate to try to find a new sucker to lend them cash," said CANF executive director Dennis Hays in an interview with CNSNews.com.
E-mail a news tip to Jim Burns.
Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.