Seeing red over ketchup for Castro

Who said the Cold War is over? Across the 90-mile stretch of ocean between Florida and Cuba, the waves of war are icier than ever.

Take the case of Javier Ferreiro, 45, a Spanish businessman who lives in the Cuban capital, Havana. Arraigned in Miami on Friday, he faces 20 years in a Florida jail and fines of up to pounds 600,000 for "trading with the enemy". His crime was that he allegedly shipped tomato ketchup, disposable nappies and sanitary towels to Fidel Castro's dreaded Communist regime.

Florida prosecutors are not saying Mr Castro's forces might squirt the ketchup into the faces of American troops during a Cuban invasion of Key West. They are merely following the letter of the federal Trading With The Enemy Act and the embargo imposed on the island soon after Mr Castro's ragtag revolutionaries ousted Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba could get most goods from there. Now, nappies and sanitary towels are desperately needed and ketchup is a coveted addition to the ration books still used by Cubans.

Mr Ferreiro was allegedly caught "red-handed" last week, buying up ketchup from a supermarket on the island of Key Biscayne, across a causeway from Miami. Prosecutors say his shipping documents suggested the goods were headed for the Dominican Republic but that they ended up in Cuba.

To support one of the world's most exemplary public health care programmes, Cuba needs medicine. Thanks to the embargo, pharmacists' shelves are bare. Perhaps that is why a wealthy 71-year-old American philanthropist, Millard Harmon, flew pounds 32,000 worth of penicillin and asthma inhalers on his private plane to help Cuban children last month. He was also allegedly "trading with the enemy": his Beechcraft plane was confiscated when he arrived back in Albany, New York, and he could face jail.

"Actually, the stuff was meant for the Cayman Islands but I had engine trouble and had to land in Havana. The good Lord does strange things to me," Mr Harmon insisted.

If the embargo arguably made sense after the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and during the long presence of Soviet troops, weaponry and advisers, the US now stands virtually alone in its old Cold War policy of trying to starve Mr Castro out.

There has been more bark than bite to the so-called Helms-Burton law, which President Clinton signed last year, making it harder for foreign firms to deal with Cuba, but it has hurt US relations with trading partners, such as Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

Suspending parts of the bill, Mr Clinton barely concealed the fact that approving it was a pre-election move to win the votes of anti-Castro Cuban-Americans. That influence was clear again the other day, when bomb threats from Cuban exiles forced a Miami radio station to stop playing salsa songs from popular Cuban bands such as Los Van Van and Manolin, the so-called "Doctor of Salsa". A moderate Cuban-American civil rights group compared the threats from anti-Castro Cubans with the Spanish Inquisition.

Another embargo-breaker, Ivan Rojas, 58, a Cuban- American, was sentenced to two years' jail last week by a federal judge in Miami. Despite the fact that his shipment was morelethal than ketchup or diapers - the US Coastguard found him on a lobster boat loaded down with machine guns and explosives bound for Cuban dissidents on the island - the judge set him free, pending appeal.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence