July 22, 2021

By Raul Cortes

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s Navy in the port city of Veracruz was loading food and medicines onto a ship bound for protest-hit Cuba, the Veracruz mayor’s office said on Thursday, in what appeared to be a show of support for the Communist-run island.

Mexico’s leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has criticized the long-standing U.S. embargo of the Caribbean island and blamed the measure for fomenting the biggest unrest to hit Cuba in decades.

The shipment of Mexican aid was being prepared 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 earlier this month.

The preparation of the cargo began in the morning including “a shipment of food and medicine from the Mexican government to Cuba,” said Marisa Lopez, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office of Veracruz. The ship where the goods were being loaded belonged to Mexico’s Navy, she added.

An official from Veracruz’s Civil Protection unit, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media, confirmed the operation inside Mexico’s biggest port.

The official did not specify what the cargo consisted of or when it would set sail from the port in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Mexican government and its navy, as well as the Cuban embassy in Mexico City, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Cuban government has blamed the protests mostly on what it calls U.S.-financed “counter-revolutionaries” exploiting economic hardship caused by U.S. sanctions.

Latin American governments have split along ideological lines over the protests in Cuba. Mexico has sided with Cuba, while Chile and Peru have urged the Communist government to allow pro-democracy protests.

(Editing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Stephen Coates)