Cubans in East Timor

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat Sep 18 07:25:49 MDT 1999

September 18, 1999

Cubans Delay Official's Visit to Portugal


HAVANA -- Cuba said Friday it had postponed a visit to Portugal      by
Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque because it did not want to distract the
Portuguese Government from concentrating on events in East Timor, a former
Portuguese colony.

The Cuban Government added in a statement that it was ready to send doctors
to East Timor to support a United Nations-authorized international
peacekeeping force to be led by Australia.

"In coordination with the Portuguese side, the Cuban minister decided to
postpone this visit until a more appropriate moment," the Cuban statement

Pérez Roque was carrying a personal invitation from the Cuban President,
Fidel Castro, to President Jorge Sampaio and Prime Minister Antonio
Guterres of Portugal, asking them to attend an upcoming Ibero-American
summit meeting in Havana in November.

Cuba's Communist rulers, who in the past have criticized some multilateral
military interventions such as this year's NATO attack on Yugoslavia, said
they considered the need for a United Nations-supervised force in East
Timor as "something exceptional."

The statement said Cuba hoped the multilateral force's mission in East
Timor would take place "under strict United Nations direction and without
hegemonic pretensions from regional powers or extra-regional power groups."

Under these circumstances, Cuba would be willing to offer medical units to
join the intervention force, it said. Cuba also would be ready to send
doctors to attend to the civilian population of East Timor once the United
Nations force had completed its mission, the statement added.

Cuba also called on all sides to respect the results of the Aug. 30
referendum in East Timor, whose population voted to back independence from

Louis Proyect

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