Latest commercial shipments of U.S. food arrive in Cuba

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

HAVANA (AP) _ A ship carrying the latest commercial deliveries of U.S. food purchased directly by Cuba under the first such contracts in nearly 40 years arrived here on Saturday.

The Turkish vessel Ismael Kaptanoglu, which left Texas on Wednesday, arrived in Havana shortly before noon with 33,000 tons of American wheat that the communist government purchased from Farmland Industries, based in Kansas City, and Archer Daniels Midland, of Illinois.

A shipment of 17,600 tons of soy and 5,500 tons of rice purchased from Archer Daniels Midland was expected here on Sunday aboard a Mexican vessel that embarked from Louisiana, according to the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council.

The first shipment of 26,400 tons of American corn sold to the Cuban government's food import company arrived here on Dec. 16 _ the first of eight such grain shipments over two months.

Anti-communist Cuban exiles in the United States object to the direct sale of American food, claiming it could erode the trade embargo imposed to punish Cuba for its one-party political system.

Representatives of American agribusiness and some U.S. officials hope the shipments will lead to increased trade with the island.

President Fidel Castro has said the food will replenish reserves depleted since early November, when Hurricane Michelle barreled across the island, destroying tens of thousands of homes and severely damaging crops.

Nearly all trade between the two nations is banned under the U.S. embargo. Congress, however, passed a law last year that permitted the direct commercial sale of American food to Cuba.