Despite Obama turning his back on Cuba’s besieged dissidents and his complete surrender to the apartheid Castro dictatorship, the Cuban regime has refused to allow aid shipments for the victims of Hurricane Matthew. Instead, the Castros want the U.S. to continue sending cash to organizations in Cuba so they can purchase supplies from the regime at inflated prices.
That is what “Hope and Change” looks like in Obama’s Cuba.
Rebuilding efforts underway in Eastern Cuba but U.S. hurricane aid rebuffed
For many residents of Baracoa, the Cuban city hit hardest by Hurricane Matthew, it could be a long time before life returns to normal.
Two weeks after the ferocious storm plowed across the eastern tip of the island, schools were back in session and construction materials and heavy equipment from Venezuela and Japan had started to arrive, helping Cuban government efforts to clear roads and restore electricity and communications systems. Cubana de Aviación also plans to resume flights to Baracoa Thursday.
But despite offers from U.S. charities to send food and other relief, shipments from the United States has been rebuffed thus far.
“The problem is the [Cuban] government is not allowing emergency relief to come in from the United States,” said the Rev. José Espino, a Hialeah priest who is helping coordinate Archdiocese of Miami relief efforts for the Diocese of Guantánamo-Baracoa.
The Miami archdiocese has asked for canned food, donations of rice and beans, cash and help with transporting goods to both Haiti and Cuba. Shipments already have been dispatched to Haiti, but none have gone out to Cuba.
Teams from Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services rode out the storm in towns on Haiti’s southwest peninsula and immediately after Matthew tore through began distributing pre-positioned supplies. But there hasn’t been a similar pipeline to Cuba. CRS says the “most likely scenario” is that it will provide funding to Caritas Cuba, the Catholic relief mission on the island, so that it can buy supplies in-country.
“The problem buying in the local market in Cuba is there is no wholesale and buying in quantity means there wouldn’t be supplies for other people in Cuba,” Espino said. “So the church is buying supplies little by little.”
Among the most immediate needs, according to CRS, are zinc sheeting to repair homes, mattresses, food, hygiene supplies, kitchen utensils and seed and tools to help farmers get back on their feet.
Espino said there’s plenty of willingness from the U.S. to help Cuba — including the offer of a 727 to fly in food — but the church in Cuba hasn’t been able to get permission to receive such supplies.
Instead, Espino said, the archdiocese has been helping with monetary donations that have been used to purchase food and supplies in Havana and other cities for distribution in the eastern Cuba communities ravaged by Matthew.
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