Cuba artists ask US to ease sanctions after storms

HAVANA (AP) -- Hundreds of Cuban writers, musicians and artists are asking the U.S. to ease trade restrictions and speed the import of food and building supplies to help the island rebuild after Hurricanes Ike and Gustav.

The two storms caused US$5 billion in damage as they ripped across Cuba this month.

A letter addressed to the world's artists and intellectuals was signed by musicians Silvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanes and Chucho Valdes, writers Miguel Barnet and Roberto Fernandez Retamar, dancer Alicia Alonso and painter Roberto Fabelo, among others.

Cuba has refused US$5 million in aid from Washington, instead asking U.S. officials to ease trade sanctions for at least for six months so it can buy U.S.-made products to aid its recovery.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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