Sunday, September 14, 2008
While the first news of the effects of the most devastating hurricane Ike in Texas are still arriving, the ones on Cuba become more clear. While deaths were mostly prevented again (only four casualties have been reported) the material destruction has been widespread.
The first official estimates speak of ten billion (ten thousand million) dollars being needed to rebuild the homes, electricity, roads and other infrastructure of the island. According to Cubainformación, 515,000 homes were harmed, 91,000 of them totally destroyed. These are provisional estimates, as there are still many areas flooded. As the work brigades begin their task, together with the armed forces, the directives are to recover every single nail from the destroyed homes, what highlights the extreme need the socialist country is in after Ike and other storms.
A non-comprehensive list of solidarity accounts in Europe and Latin America can be found here (in Spanish). Many ask to make donations in euros or any currency that is not US dollars, because of the blockade by Washington.
There is some mediatic confusion on wether and why Cuba rejected the US offer of "help". While the usual media have been unclear about it. The Cuban authorities rejected it because it included, first of all, a Yankee surveyance team. Cuba declares it has all the human resources needed and what it needs now is material help only. It may be worth recalling that the USA rejected similar offers by Cuba and other countries on the wake of Katrina, accepting nevertheless all monetary donations.
La Habana asks instead for the suspension of the blockade, a petition partly echoed by presidential candidate Barack Obama but rejected by Condoleeza Rice, and declares extremely suspicious the intentions of Washington's offer. The European Union has also been extremely greedy, offering a miserable two millon euros donation. Meanwhile, Brazil is already giving food aid to both Cuba and Haiti.