Cuba buys fuel shipment, vessel and all, due to US sanctions

Give us gasoline! Drivers line up to get their tanks filled at a Havana fuel station (AFP Photo/YAMIL LAGE)
·1 min read

Havana (AFP) - Cuba purchased a shipment of oil -- and the vessel holding it -- as its owner refused to dock at the island nation over fears of violating US sanctions, the government said Wednesday.

Authorities in Cuba -- which is facing a fuel shortage -- did not specify where the fuel or ship came from, nor when the purchase took place.

"We have reached the point where we had to buy a ship near our shore -- buy the ship -- because the owner refused to dock with the fuel on board," Transport Minister Eduardo Rodriguez said.

"We have had to buy the ship with money from the limited financial resources at our disposal in our country to be able to buy this fuel," he said.

Cuba produces only 32 percent of the fuel it uses to generate electricity, while the other 68 percent must be imported, mostly from Venezuela -- but Venezuelan imports have been reduced, also because of sanctions from Washington.

Rodriguez lamented other effects of the US trade embargo, which was instituted in 1962 and recently strengthened by President Donald Trump.

"We recently purchased two airplanes for air transport," he said, but the seller backed out of the plan for fear of violating the recent reactivation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act.

That clause allows legal action to discourage foreign investment in Cuba after the country's 1959 communist revolution.

And an "important international company" canceled investments meant for modernizing Cuban airports for the same reason, Rodriguez said, without naming the firm.