Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gustav relief: Debating what to do (corrected)

Cuban television is showing the arrival of Russian cargo planes bringing relief and reconstruction materials to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav. The German government is providing 200,000 Euros for hurricane relief in Haiti and Cuba, to be channeled through German organizations already working in those countries. And a Granma article, in addition to making a big deal of the relationship with Russia, lists countries that have offered sympathy and aid, including Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Meanwhile, here in the United States, we’re debating the issue.

Senator Obama and Congressional candidates Raul Martinez and Joe Garcia want President Bush to suspend restrictions on Cuban American travel, remittances, and gift packages, so that Cuban Americans can act now to assist their familes directly.

Senators Menendez and Nelson and Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Albio Sires oppose any changes in regulations and want a more controlled approach. (I could find nothing in English on their proposal; the best summary is here.) They want the United States government to offer to send an assessment team, and to offer aid through the U.S. Interests Section. They urge those who want to help to send money to humanitarian organizations that are already licensed to work in Cuba.

All of the above would be fine with me.

Still I can’t imagine why, with so much devastation in western Cuba, it should not be possible for someone to get on a plane with a few thousand bucks to fix his aunt’s roof, buy her a new refrigerator, and leave some food and money behind.

For those who want to act now, I’ll repeat this paragraph from yesterday.

How to help: U.S. government regulations severely limit what Americans can do directly, but we can work through two fine charities, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Caritas Cubana. CRS, the international aid arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops, has long supported the work of Caritas, Cuba’s nationwide Catholic charity, in a variety of humanitarian tasks including disaster relief. Caritas has requested assistance to help Gustav’s victims, and CRS is receiving donations for this purpose. If you want to help CRS respond to Caritas’ appeal, you can make a donation to CRS and designate it for “Cuba hurricane relief,” the code is 2770-1284 – you can do it on-line at the CRS donation page, or by mail (Catholic Relief Services, PO Box 17090, Baltimore MD 21203-7090), or by calling 1-888-277-7575.

Correction: Contrary to what I wrote this morning, Senator Mel Martinez was not part of the initiative of Senators Menendez and Nelson and the House members.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hats off to you who find a way to help dispite your government....

The Dubois Foundation in Canada is working on a container of relief supplies .

Lets hope Ike does not hit Cuba as well or we may be doing this again in a couple of weeks for another area

Anonymous said...

"Still I can’t imagine why, with so much devastation in western Cuba, it should not be possible for someone to get on a plane with a few thousand bucks to fix his aunt’s roof, buy her a new refrigerator, and leave some food and money behind."

sounds like a good question for the Castro regime Peters since they do a better job of controlling who goes in and out of Cuba than anyone else....

Mambi_Watch said...

Phil,

Your coverage of the aftermath and political debate from hurricane Gustav has been praiseworthy. Congrats.

I found the english version of the bi-partisan statement lead by Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart:

http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/broward/blog/2008/09/congressional_candidates_weigh.html#more

Anonymous said...

what restrictions would the cuban government place on anyone wanting to bring in donations and help. only if they were connected to anti-castro terrorist groups. other than that, go and help instead of tossing brats from afar.
getting in and out of cuba has always been easy, if you have no ulterior motives.

Stogie said...

Who Is Senator Menendez?