Monday, January 25, 2010

Fidel's Haiti politics

Fidel Castro publishes an article where he complains about the presence of so many American troops in Haiti – they have “occupied the territory of Haiti,” he says – and asks why “neither the United Nations nor the United States government have offered an explanation of these troop movements to world public opinion.” AP coverage here, Spanish text here.

That’s demagoguery, it’s par for the course, and it has been echoed by Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales.

In the article, Fidel also seems to respond to Washington, saying Cuba doesn’t need U.S. supplies for now. He writes that any significant aid that may be offered to Cuba’s contingent in Haiti “will not be rejected” out of hand, and would only be accepted if it fits the needs of the Cuban mission.

Until now, he says, “our modest aircraft resources and the important human resources that Cuba has put at the disposition of the Haitian people have not had any difficulty in arriving at their destination.”

This small part of the Haiti equation has been pretty simple: Haiti has huge emergency medical needs, Cuba has doctors and clinics in place, and the United States and others arrived with supplies and delivery capacity.

The Obama Administration set aside political considerations and offered to cooperate with Cuba in anything that would improve the relief effort. Extraneous Obstacle #1 averted. Extraneous Obstacle #2 is Cuban pride, and judging from Fidel’s article, that one still seems to be in play.

But Cuba has accepted a Norwegian donation to buy supplies for its doctors in Haiti, so let’s hope the point is moot.

No comments: