On September 27, 2022, hurricane Ian made landfall in Cuba. Despite Cuba’s well-known preparedness for natural disasters, the damage has been immense. In the western province of Pinar del Rio, famous for its tobacco production, it destroyed over 5,000 farms. In small towns like San Luis, the storm left 80% of all homes damaged. The hurricane affected Cuba’s power grid and the country’s electrical system collapsed.
Concerned organizations and activists in the United States issued an urgent appeal, published in the Sunday, October 2, 2022, edition of the New York Times. The appeal demands that Biden temporarily lift sanctions and allow Cuba to purchase urgently needed supplies for reconstruction after Hurricane Ian.
We publish below an article about this appeal that appeared in Spanish in the Cuban news publication CubaDebate. The U.S. e-mail list CubaNews translated the article and published it into English.
We also publish below the text of the appeal to Biden as it appeared in the Times, along with a link on how individuals or organizations can make donations to help Cuba’s recovery effort.
Cuba Debate article
Biden needs to act right now to help the Cuban people. Hurricane Ian caused great devastation. The power grid was damaged and the electrical system collapsed. More than 50,000 homes have been completely destroyed or severely damaged.
Activists and organizations in the United States today called on President Joe Biden to temporarily lift the blockade imposed on Cuba and allow the island to recover after the passage of Hurricane Ian.
From its official Twitter account, the People’s Forum movement reported on the urgent communiqué in this Sunday’s edition of The New York Times for the cessation of Washington’s coercive measures and to make possible the purchase of supplies necessary for the reconstruction of the country.
“The Biden administration needs to act right now to help the Caribbean people” highlights the message entitled Let Cuba rebuild.
The text stresses that the economic, commercial and financial blockade prevents Havana from obtaining the necessary resources, and therefore urges the White House to allow, even if only for the next six months, the purchase of construction materials.
It recalls that the people of the island are facing a major setback due to Ian, which hit the territory last Tuesday and left the electrical network damaged, houses destroyed, crops and important economic sectors such as tobacco affected, in addition to problems in telecommunications and water supply.
“Although the law authorizes U.S. entities and organizations to provide disaster relief and response, it has been proven that it is not so easy, as there are long and complex processes to receive licenses that often require costly lawyers,” the document states.
Similarly, it points out how Cuba’s inclusion on the alleged State Sponsors of Terrorism List means that banks both on U.S. soil and abroad are reluctant to process any transactions, including humanitarian donations.
“It is inconceivable at this critical hour to maintain the blockade and collectively punish an entire people,” the message remarks, while urging President Biden to set aside the Cold War policy, “even if only for six months!”
“The Cuban people are part of our family, the human family,” it adds, and insists that “The time to act is now!”
Following Ian’s passage, the People’s Forum shared a link to a site to receive donations and contribute to Cuba relief efforts, as well as the Puentes de Amor solidarity project, focused on the purchase of food, drugs and medical equipment.
Early last September Biden signed the extension of the so-called “Trading with the Enemy Act”, which extends until September 14, 2023 the blockade and authorizes the president to impose economic restrictions.
According to the Havana Foreign Ministry, the measure ignores the world community’s rejection of that policy in force for more than six decades, “intensified in an opportunistic manner in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic to destroy the Cuban people through hunger, disease and misery,” it stated.
Text of Appeal to President Biden
The US sanctions and embargo are preventing Cuba from rebuilding after Hurricane Ian.
Tell the Biden Administration that it needs to act right now to help the Cuban people. Hurricane Ian caused great devastation. The power grid was damaged, and the electrical system collapsed. Over four thousand homes have been completely destroyed or badly damaged.
Cuba must be allowed, even if just for the next six months, to purchase the necessary construction materials to REBUILD. Cubans are facing a major humanitarian crisis because of Hurricane Ian [emphasis in the original].
Despite Cuba’s well-known preparedness for natural disasters, the damage from this hurricane has been immense. In the western province of Pinar del Rio, famous for its tobacco production, over 5,000 farms were destroyed. In small towns like San Luis, 80% of all homes were left damaged.
People from around the world are eager to sell construction materials and provide aid, but the US policy of sanctions and embargo against Cuba threatens US and other companies from doing business with Cuba — even for the most basic goods and materials. This same policy also deters and makes it nearly impossible for organizations in the US to send aid in a timely manner.
Cuba is also prevented from processing many financial transactions because the Trump administration absurdly placed it on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list simply for hosting internationally recognized peace talks in Colombia.
It is unconscionable to engage in collective punishment against an entire people by preventing Cuba from purchasing construction materials or receiving aid at this critical hour.
Tell President Biden to put Cold War politics aside — even for six months! [emphasis in the original].
The people of Cuba are part of our family — the human family. Don’t let outdated Cold War politics prevent the world from helping the Cuban people be able to rebuild and return to their homes, rebuild the electrical grid, and have clean drinking water and access to food. The time to act is now!
Cuba is our neighbor. People around the world want to help! Send Biden a letter now! [emphasis in the original].
Use this link to send a letter to Biden or donate to Cuba’s rebuilding effort.
Categories: Cuba/Cuba Solidarity