Cuban leader Fidel Castro has said that tourists from countries like Canada and Spain brought the A(H1N1) flu virus to his country, and that US President Barack Obama influenced it by easing restrictions on Cuban-Americans' visits to the island.
In a new article released by the Cuban news media Saturday, Castro recalls that "the initial symptoms of A(H1N1) arose in Mexico in the first quarter of this year, and almost simultaneously spread to the US and Canada," and from there "it reached Spain".
"When the current US president raised restrictions on Cuban-Americans traveling to Cuba, the epidemic had already reached a great number of states in that nation. Thus it happened that the four countries generating the most tourism and travel for other reasons to our country were those that, to a high degree, were suffering from the epidemic," he said.
In April, US President Barack Obama eliminated limits on Cuban-Americans' travel and remittances to the island, and gave the green light to the possibility that telecommunications firms could offer cell phone services in Cuba.
According to Castro, "the first carriers of the virus (in Cuba) were travellers," initially the number of people infected on the island "were relatively few", and for months there were no deaths.
"But to the degree that the virus spread to all provinces, chiefly those with the greatest number of family members living in the United States, it became necessary to acquire new analysis equipment," the article said.
"So we have the strange case that the US on the one hand authorized travel for a greater number of carriers of the virus, and on the other, bans the acquisition of equipment and medicines to combat the epidemic," Castro said.
The Cuban ex-president further said that he does think "that this was the intention of the United States government, but it is the real result of the absurd and shameful blockade imposed on our people."