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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cuba needs 10 billion dollars to rebuild

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.


Katharine said...

I have been to Cuba to build playgrounds for children of Havana with a humanitarian team in 2005.

The Cuban people are amazing and the US government has completely made a mistake to continue the embargo of our Cuban brothers and sisters for almost 50 years. Many Americans support free trade and travel with Cuba. Let's hope our next Presidency will change this situation.


Maju said...

Hi, Katherine.

IMO, the US government more than "a mistake" has made a calculated bet to isolate and damage a socialist focus in America. It is not a matter of national interests as much as one of corporative interest - after all the USA is surely much more representative of multinational corporations than of its own citizens. Would socialism suceed in Latin America, as it's happening in spite of all US interventionism, the multinational interests would be heavily damaged because more production would be kept by the workers and the people in general.

That's why not just the blockade to Cuba but also the attempts to depose Morales and Chávez that are going on as I write this. I can only hope that the also ongoing Big Crisis (maybe the biggest ever in the history of Capitalism) limits the ability of the USA and multinational capital to act - but the experience from the 1930s suggests that they will become even more ferocious.

In any case there is some hope in Obama's promises to restore dialogue with Cuba - and I fear that's a reason why he is not really likely to win.

And in any case, there is a lot of hope in people to people cooperation and dialogue, like the wonderful work you and the other cooperators are doing. After all socialism and democracy (and IMO the two cannot go separately) are something that the people, not any givernments, much less any corporation, can build.

Best wishes.

Walter Lippmann said...

Thanks very much for your caring message. Isn't the Internet a great way for people to make contact with one another?

For over eight years I've been operating an Internet-based news service on Cuba which you and your readers might find useful

My father and his parents lived in Cuba from 1939 to 1942. They were German Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, and not political left-wingers. That family history is where my own interest in Cuba comes from.

Cuban society today represents an effort to build an alternative to the way life was under the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, who ran Cuba before Fidel Castro led a revolution there. No one complained about a lack of human rights and democracy in those days, but U.S. businesses were protected.

Some things work, some don’t. Like any society, Cuba its flaws and contradictions, as well as having solid achievements. No society is perfect. But we can certainly learn a few things from Cuba’s experience. I think we can learn more than a few.

It's amazing, with the US calling itself the model of freedom, it requires that its citizens must get a permission slip from the federal government to go and see Cuba for itself. It does not impose this requirement on any other place we'd like to go and visit. That's an indication of how desperate they are to keep people from the US from visiting Cuba, "the little engine that could" as the saying goes.

We should all be free to visit Cuba. We can visit China and Vietnam, even North Korea, Syria and Iran, why can't we visit Cuba and see it for ourselves? Cuba is our neighbor and we should simply normalize relations.

Thanks for letting me rant on this morning.

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

Maju said...

You are very much welcome, Walter. And I'm glad that you do not share the views of your more famous nameshake (I was thinking: "Walter Lippmann? This name sounds familiar to me..." And found he, the other one, was a deceased right-wing journalist and ideologue).

I sincerely hope that US-Cuba relations are mended. As you say, if you can go to Vietnam, P.R. China, Venezuela or Iran (you can visit Iran, right?), why not Cuba? I believe that there is a fear not just of solidarity pouring through the border but also and specially of some contagion. Cuba is not certainly an affluent country, and one may certainly be critical of the political system and so on, but has some good things that you won't find in the USA - and I'm not thinking just in Habanos cigars, obviously, but important elements like health care, no homeless, etc.

Thank you for your sincere and involved comment.

Walter Lippmann said...

Dear Maju -

Thanks for your quick reply.

The OTHER Walter Lippmann, to whom I have no relationship of a family nature, wasn't a simple rightist, though I often say he was the George Will of his time.

The other WL was a virulent opponent of democracy itself. It was his phrase about the media's job from which Noam Chomsky picked up the term "manufacturing consent".

Since I'm 64 years old, you're not the first person to ask if I'm related to that WL, I've created a special page to answer that question with various commentaries about the other WL:

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California
6:15 AM in the morning

Maju said...

Chomsky on the other Lippmann: He said we should manufacture consent, that's the way democracies should work.

That makes him strangely relevant. Probably very influential, as your site says, but clearly relevant as for how "democracy" seems to work nowadays, via planified media manipulation. It's surely not a new idea as Marx and, specially, Lenin were already very wary of the concept of "burgeueoise democracy" and directly spoke of class dictatorship (with all the debatable shortcomings that this perception had and its side-effects).

Well, in any case, I am glad to meet the "real" Walter Lippmann and not the famous one. :-)

Walter Lippmann said...

One other advantage I have is that I am alive and you can converse with me. The other one died in 1974.

Please do consider subscribing to the CubaNews list. I'd love to have you there. If you see any interesting stuff on Cuba, trust me, I cannot find or post all of what's out there.



Maju said...

One other advantage I have is that I am alive and you can converse with me.

Sure. That's why I called you the "real" one. ;-)

Please do consider subscribing to the CubaNews list.

What's that? I am not too knowledgeable on the issues of Cuba but I'd certainly may enjoy learning something there and sharing whatever I can.