The Cuban Foreign Ministry has strongly rejected Cuba’s inclusion in the list of countries allegedly sponsoring international terrorism the U.S. government issued April 30.

“The Bush administration is once again lying to the U.S. and international public in its desire to justify with false accusations the cruel and inhman policy of blockade, hostility and aggression in the case of Cuba,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement May 8.

“Maybe more than any other country in the world, Cuba knows what terrorism means,” the ministry said. “Since 1959 we have been the victim of the most cruel and merciless terrorism, frequently sponsored, protected, financed and organized by the U.S. government itself, and which has resulted in the death of thousands of Cuban citizens.”

The statement reiterated Cuba’s across-the-boards condemnation of all forms of terrorism, and its condemnation of any act aimed at supporting or covering up terrorism. At the same time, the ministry said, Havana’s proposal for a bilateral U.S.-Cuba program to combat terrorism, presented in November 2001 and reiterated several times since, has been repeatedly rejected by Washington.

The ministry also refuted the U.S. accusations, point by point, noting that the presence of Basque ETA members in Cuba is by agreement with the Spanish government, while Cuba’s participation in talks with the FARC has active support of the UN and the Colombian government. A supposed Irish Republican Army “weapons expert” was officially representing the legal Irish political party Sinn Fein during his years in Cuba, the ministry said, and the U.S. has never presented any proof of claims that Cuba sought to divert investigations of the Sept. 11 attack.

Washington’s allegations that fugitives from U.S. justice are sheltered in Cuba turns reality on its head, the statement said, since the U.S. has maintained “a policy throughout more than 40 years of protecting and shielding any criminal reaching U.S. territory after having committed criminal acts against Cuba and its people.” Nonetheless, the statement said, Cuba has repeatedly shown its full cooperation in exchanging information with U.S. authorities in cases of drug trafficking, illegal emigration, hijackings, etc.

The ministry said allegations that Cuba opposes the Bush administration’s “war on terrorism” ignore Havana’s post-Sept. 11 provision of information and its offers of medical assistance to combat anthrax — the latter never acknowledged by the U.S.

The statement emphasized that Cuba continues to “firmly and categorically” oppose the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq and the Bush administration’s new doctrine of preemptive war.