Honduras re-establishes relations with Cuba

Sunday, January 27th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) - In his last major act in office, President Carlos Flores Facusse has re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba after a 40-year hiatus.

The action late Saturday is part of a steady, gradual erosion of U.S. efforts to isolate the communist government of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

``In our times, no country can live alone,'' said the foreign ministry in a brief communique announcing the restoration of relations, which will take effect on Jan. 26.

Flores Facusse, of the Liberal Party, was handing over power at midday Sunday to the National Party's Ricardo Maduro, who won election to a five-year term in November.

Honduras broke relations with Cuba in 1961 when the island nation was expelled from the Organization of American States.

The United States pressed governments throughout the hemisphere to isolate Castro's government, which was veering rapidly toward socialism two years after taking power.

Several countries in the hemisphere _ and more abroad _ have restored ties with Cuba in recent years. Honduras re-established an interests section in Havana last November.

Many Hondurans felt gratitude for Cuba's shipment of scores of doctors to the most remote areas of the country after Hurricane Mitch hit in 1998. About 150 Cuban doctors have worked in Honduras since then, treating 1.7 million people.

Cuba also is giving medical education to 500 Honduran students, most from poor families.