The Sacramento Bee

Fearing swine flu, Haiti rejects Mexican aid ship
The Sacramento Bee

Haitian officials rejected a Mexican aid ship carrying 77 tons of much-needed food aid because of « unfounded » swine flu fears, Mexico’s ambassador said Wednesday.

The Mexican navy ship El Huasteco was to arrive May 2 in Port-au-Prince carrying rice, fertilizer and emergency food kits to help the impoverished country respond to chronic hunger and devastating tropical storms.

But Mexican Ambassador Zadalinda Gonzalez y Reynero said Haitian officials told her April 29 they would not accept the ship, which was still in Mexican waters near the Yucatan peninsula at the time.

« The crew was in perfect health and there was no risk at all, » Gonzalez y Reynero told The Associated Press, adding that the cargo and 64 sailors aboard the ship had all been screened in Mexico. « We did not want to turn back the ship, but we also did not want our crew to be mistreated. »

The executive director of Haiti’s Health Ministry, Dr. Gabriel Thimothee, said no ships from Mexico are being allowed in Haitian ports. He said he could not say when that policy began.