updated 8/23/2004 10:09:55 PM ET 2004-08-24T02:09:55

Cuba on Monday rejected Washington’s offer of $50,000 in post-Hurricane Charley aid, calling the gesture hypocritical and the amount humiliating.

The offer was announced by the U.S. State Department on Aug. 13, the same day Hurricane Charley battered western Cuba on its way to Florida. At least four deaths in Cuba were blamed on the storm, which forced the evacuation of 200,000 residents.

“This cynical and hypocritical offer ... to ease Hurricane Charley’s effects ignores the damage caused over more than four decades by the economic war of successive (American) administrations against our country,” Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried in the Communist workers weekly newspaper Trabajadores.

“Cuba will not accept supposed help from the government of a country that harms us and tries to take us under with hunger and need,” the statement added, referring to long-standing restrictions on trade and travel aimed at undermining Fidel Castro’s communist government.

“It’s obvious the American government suffers from total amnesia. Otherwise it would be impossible to understand how it could pretend to assume the role of benefactor to the Cuban people just after once again tightening the cruel blockade,” it added, referring to new U.S. restrictions on travel to the island.

The Foreign Ministry statement characterized the $50,000 offer as “ridiculous and humiliating charity.”

It also took issue with the U.S. government’s insistence that the money not be given to Castro’s government but be distributed by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana to independent, non-governmental organizations.

Many of the independent groups in Cuba are opposed to the government, which views many of the groups as counterrevolutionary.

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