Haiti a litmus test for global co-operation: Fidel Castro

Veteran Cuban leader Fidel Castro on Sunday said Haiti's devastating earthquake would be a test of international co-operation, as other leftist leaders lambasted a US "occupation" of the ravaged nation.

"Haiti can become an example of what humanity can do for itself," 83-year-old Castro, still Communist Party chief after leaving the presidency in 2006 during a health crisis, said in an article published Sunday.

In a rare show of co-operation between Washington and Havana, Cuba earlier this week granted US military planes overflight rights, allowing aid to be brought from Miami more quickly.

"In Haiti we have been asked how long the spirit of co-operation can last before egoism, chauvinism, mixed motives and contempt for other countries prevails."

Cuba has sent 10 tonnes of medicine to its Caribbean neighbor to the east, along with 450 medics, arriving at the airport in Port-au-Prince -- now controlled by its Cold War foe, the United States.

Castro's tone was markedly more restrained than other leftist in Latin America, who balked at US-aid efforts.

Venezuela's populist President Hugo Chavez on Sunday accused the United States of using the tragedy of Haiti's earthquake to launch a military occupation of the country.

"Why send 3,000 armed soldiers unless it is for war?" said the firebrand leader who has often defined his rule by attacking leaders in Washington.

"It appears they are militarily occupying Haiti, taking advantage of the tragedy," he said during a weekly television address.

 

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