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MEXICO CITY (Kyodo) Nikon Corp. is under fire for refusing to present a digital camera as a prize to a Cuban boy who was one of the winners of a U.N. painting competition, citing a U.S. economic embargo on the Caribbean island state.

Nikon, which cosponsored the 15th International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment, provided cameras to all the contest winners except the 12-year-old boy, who was given art materials as an alternative prize at the awards ceremony in Algiers on June 5.

Faced with protests, Nikon said it cannot present a digital camera to the boy because it contains U.S.-made parts whose export to Cuba is banned.

Cuban media reports accuse Nikon of “brutally humiliating” the boy.

In Tokyo, Nikon said it was very sorry for its lack of sensitivity and that it is considering providing the boy with a camera that would not infringe on the U.S. economic embargo.

The International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment is organized annually by the U.N. Environment Program, the Japan-based Foundation for Global Peace and Environment, German chemical giant Bayer AG and Nikon.

It has been held since 1991 and has annually received more than 170,000 entries from children in some 100 countries. “Deserts and Desertification” was the theme of the 15th contest.

The United States has restricted exports of U.S.-made products to Cuba since 1962.

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