Fidel Castro accuses Mexico of hiding flu outbreak

May 13th, 2009 - 1:10 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Havana, May 12 (DPA) The former Cuban president Fidel Castro accused Mexico of not telling other countries earlier about the outbreak of ongoing influenza epidemic due to the visit of US President Barack Obama.
“Mexican authorities did not inform the world about the presence of the (epidemic) because they were awaiting Obama’s visit. Now they threaten to suspend (Mexican) President Calderon’s visit to Cuba,” Castro wrote in an article that Cuban state media published Tuesday.

Obama visited Mexico in mid-April shortly before the swine flu outbreak caused worldwide concern.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon was set to visit Cuba in mid-2009. However, Calderon himself said the trip might be cancelled, in a comment that was interpreted as a reaction to Havana’s suspension of flights to and from Mexico because of the A(H1N1) flu virus.

Cuba was the first country to suspend flights to and from Mexico - five flights a day to Mexico City and Cancun - to hinder the spread of the A(H1N1) virus. Argentina, Ecuador and Peru were to follow.

“At this point us and scores of other countries are bearing the cost (of the flu) and on top of that we are being accused of adopting measures that are harmful for Mexico,” Castro said.

The historic Cuban leader, 82, wondered what Calderon “was complaining about”.

“Now we appear as unfair, not based on technical elements, a country that is hostile to the Mexican people,” he denounced.

The health ministry of Cuba confirmed late Monday the island’s first case of the new strain of flu, in a Mexican exchange student.

A statement from the ministry said the case was detected after special monitoring of Mexican students returning to Cuba from Easter break.

State-run television said that two students were hospitalised and quarantined, while 14 others with mild symptoms of colds or flu were under observation.

Cuban health officials previously examined 84 people from eight nationalities for possible infection from the new influenza strain, along with 511 Cuban patients. All tested negative for the virus, officials said.

Castro referred to the confirmed infection with sarcasm.

“The carrier is a young Mexican citizen who studies medicine in our country. The only thing we can say for now is that he was not brought in by the CIA. He came from Mexico,” Castro said.

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