Philips rejects Castro "betrayal" charges
Cuban ex-president Fidel Castro accuses the Dutch multinational company for bowing to US’s demands and for not delivering spare parts for medical equipment.The Hague – Dutch electronics giant Philips on Tuesday dismissed claims by Cuban ex-president Fidel Castro of "betrayal" and blamed bureaucratic red tape for a delay in delivering medical equipment to Cuba.
"Because of the complexity of the application of the rules to the transactions, the company did not obtain all the licences required" for the delivery of spare parts for medical equipment, Philips said in a statement.
"We have disclosed the matter, cooperated fully, accepted the penalties and improved our procedures to prevent similar recurrences."
The company said it could only go ahead with the deliveries after paying a fine of EUR 100,000 to the US government.
Castro on Monday slammed Dutch multinational Philips as a "traitor" for not delivering spare parts for medical equipment due to the US economic embargo on Cuba.
Castro, 83, and still head of the Cuban Communist Party, wrote in an editorial in official media that Philips' "backing down and betrayal of Cuba and Venezuela" stemmed from US pressure under former president George W. Bush, and has not changed much under President Barack Obama.
The United States and Cuba do not have full diplomatic relations. Washington has had a full economic embargo on Cuba since 1962.
He claimed that in 2006, at the request of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Cuba bought from Philips and Germany's Siemens thousands of pieces of advanced medical equipment for the two countries.
Oil-rich Venezuela is Cuba's key regional ally, and keeps Havana's deeply strained central economy just barely afloat.
While the United States has made enough loopholes in its own sanctions to become a leading supplier of food to Cuba, most US industrial and manufactured goods still cannot be sold directly to the Americas' lone communist government.
While Siemens "kept its promises", Philips failed to deliver the 3,553 pieces of equipment worth USD 72.8 million (EUR 50.2 million) on time due to what Castro called "brutal intransigence" on the part of unnamed US authorities.
Philips delivered the needed spare parts only in June, Castro said, after it paid a fine to the Obama government.
"No one has compensated Cubans, or Venezuelan patients under the care of doctors, for the human suffering caused," Castro wrote.
"While the Cuban government is entitled to their interpretation of this settlement, it is not a matter of if Philips can sell medical equipment to Cuba, but how -- ensuring we adhere to relevant export laws and the laws of all countries in which we operate," said the statement.
Philips said it would continue to sell medical equipment to Cuba, "with the appropriate licences".
AFP / Expatica