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Department of Commerce

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Press Release



Thursday, September 11, 2008


Secretary Gutierrez Statement on Cuba Declining U.S. Humanitarian Team Offer for Second Time

WASHINGTON—U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez released the following statement after a second U.S. offer for a humanitarian assessment team was turned down:

“The safety and welfare of the Cuban people is our highest concern in the wake of hurricanes Gustav and Ike and although the Cuban Government has declined the offer of a humanitarian assessment team, we remain willing to send one. We are evaluating how best to provide additional humanitarian relief for Cuban victims of this disaster. Providing an assessment and donating aid so that people on the island have at least the basic necessities during this difficult time is something we do for any country in the world after a natural disaster,” Gutierrez said.

In addition to offering aid directly, the U.S. Treasury Department is prepared to approve new licenses and amend existing licenses for the increased transfer of funds for hurricane relief on the island. This will enhance the ability of U.S. citizens to contribute to Cuban hurricane relief through licensed providers.

Secretary Gutierrez co-chairs the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a U.S. Cabinet-level commission formed to explore ways the United States can help hasten and ease a democratic transition in Cuba. The American people are the largest providers of humanitarian aid to the Cuban people, having provided more than $240 million in donations in 2007. U.S. remittances are the largest source of direct support to the Cuban people.