Mexico readies navy ships to bring food, supplies to Cuba


FILE PHOTO: A Cuban flag flies over a street amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in downtown Havana, Cuba, July 18, 2021. Picture taken July 18, 2021. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Mexico will send two navy ships loaded with food and medical supplies to Cuba, the foreign ministry said on Thursday, after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador blamed the U.S. embargo for fomenting the biggest unrest in Cuba in decades.

The ships will leave the port of Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, taking syringes, oxygen tanks and masks along with powered milk, cans of tuna, beans, flour, cooking oil and gasoline.

The shipments exemplify Mexico's policy of "international solidarity" and it will keep offering humanitarian aid to help Latin American and Caribbean countries tackle the coronavirus pandemic, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The loading of the cargo began early on Thursday, said Marisa Lopez, a spokeswoman for the office of the mayor of Veracruz.

The preparations came on the same day that the U.S. government announced sanctions against a Cuban security minister and a special forces unit for their alleged role in the crackdown on the anti-government protests that began this month.

The Cuban embassy in Mexico City did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Cuban government has blamed the protests mostly on what it calls U.S.-financed "counter-revolutionaries" exploiting economic hardship caused by decades-old U.S. embargo.

Latin American governments have split along ideological lines over the protests in Cuba.

Mexico, run by leftist Lopez Obrador, has sided with Cuba, while Chile and Peru have urged the Communist government to allow pro-democracy protests.

(Editing by Drazen Jorgic; additional reporting by Diego Ore; Editing by Stephen Coates, Robert Birsel)

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