‘Rejection and mistrust’: Cuban dissident reactions to humanitarian aid offered by the U.S.
Several Cuban opponents are leery, afraid that this aid will never actually reach those most in need. ‘Guarantees are needed so that the Cuban government does not benefit from it,’ says journalist Boris González Arenas.
The news that the U.S. Government will be sending two million dollars in humanitarian aid to the Cuban people through independent NGOs has sparked criticism from, or at least skepticism among, several members of civil society and the dissident community on the island, according to RadioTV Marti.
In statements to the U.S. media DIARIO DE CUBA contributor Boris González Arenas asserted that ”although the aid is necessary, guarantees are needed so that the government does not benefit from it,” he said.
“This is a buffer measure; that is, in Pinar del Río right now they have been without electricity for three weeks; in Pinar del Río right now they are enduring prehistoric conditions, and that must be resolved,” Gonzalez Arenas said.
“Castroism has created not only a system of institutions, but also a fake civil society such that, if the United States puts money there, or the European Union, Castroism is bound to steal it, but the citizens of Pinar del Río do need that assistance that the United States can give them now,” he said regarding the government’s possible diversion of the humanitarian aid.
According to art historian and activist Carolina Barrero, the fact that Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez publicly thanked the U.S. government for the aid it extended shows that the “criminalization of the regime by those who receive aid from U.S. cooperation agencies has NO credibility or validity. It never has. The logic of that criminalization is part of a totalitarian, polarizing and deceitful fiction,” she wrote on her Facebook profile.
More direct in her criticism was activist and Havana resident Adelth Bonne Gamboa who stated that: ”it is clear to me that the US government supports the Cuban dictatorship with total impudence, incoherence and impunity. (…)” to which she added ”it makes me very angry, when I think of all those who have taken to the streets all this time, of the many political prisoners (…) that, now, those who are supposedly helping us fight against our executioners, are giving them aspirin to relieve the pain that it took us many many blows, prisoners, and even deaths, for almost 70 years, to inflict,” the activist stated on her Facebook profile.
Meanwhile, art historian Anamely Ramos questioned the work of the Red Cross, which will be one of the organizations in charge of channeling U.S. aid into Cuba: ”The Red Cross apparently responds to the call of the United States and not to a part of Cuban civil society, just as the Cuban regime itself asks for and accepts aid from the United States rather than from members of Cuban civil society in exile.”
”These details are also part and parcel the original evil, because Cuban civil society, which opposes the dictatorship, and whose organizations and groups do great work, which is sometimes very dangerous, to expose and act against the multiple human rights violations in Cuba, is not recognized and tended to,” said the former member of the San Isidro Movement.
In addition to these criticisms, US humanitarian donations to Cuba came to 12,104,977 dollars in the first half of this year, a figure higher than the total amount provided in 2021, 11,074,090 dollars, according to a report by the US-Cuba Economic and Trade Council.
In general, Havana administrates humanitarian aid with very little transparency and, in most cases, ends up selling the donated products to the Cuban population.
There are several reports that donations of food and other products from Mexico, Russia or Vietnam have been put on sale, in some cases even at MLC stores, which are only accessible by Cubans whose relatives or friends send remittances in foreign currency from abroad.