March 20, 2006

Farrakhan visits Cuba, denounces US Katrina aid

HAVANA (Reuters) - Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan
is visiting communist Cuba to learn about disaster relief, a
visit prompted by the failure of the U.S. government to cope
with Hurricane Katrina, he said on Monday.

The controversial Nation of Islam leader, who is visiting
Cuba for a week, criticized Washington for refusing a Cuban
offer to send doctors after Katrina devastated New Orleans last
August, flooding neighborhoods mainly populated by blacks and
the impoverished.

"After Hurricane Katrina and the failure of federal and
state government, we felt it was our duty to come to Cuba to
learn disaster management from the Cuban people who have had
many hurricanes and have not lost lives," he said.

Farrakhan, who led the Million Man March on the Washington
Mall in 1995 to promote black self-reliance and responsibility,
said he intended to "spread the knowledge" among impoverished
black, Hispanic and Native American communities.

He met with young Americans studying medicine in Havana on
Cuban scholarships and encouraged them to go back to their
communities to deliver medical services needed by those who
lack health insurance.

"This is a difficult road that you have chosen, but you
must not give up," he told some of the 74 Americans studying at
Havana's Latin American Medical School.

The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba
and enforced an economic embargo after Fidel Castro's 1959
revolution. The Bush administration stepped up sanctions in
2004 to undermine what it calls an "outpost of tyranny."

Farrakhan said the U.S. State Department "represents the
rich and the powerful."

"We do not believe that Miss Condoleezza Rice, no matter
how beautiful she is, represents policies that represent the
poor people of our nation," he said.