Thursday, October 27, 2005

Cuba Accepts U.S. Aid Offer For The First Time

Read the story here.

By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer 1 hour, 27 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Cuba has unexpectedly agreed to a quiet U.S. offer of emergency aid following Hurricane Wilma, and three Americans will travel to Cuba to assess needs there, the State Department said Thursday.
Washington has routinely offered humanitarian relief for hurricanes and other disasters in Cuba, and Cuban leader Fidel Castro himself has routinely turned the offers down. After Hurricane Dennis pummeled the island in July, Castro expressed gratitude for Washington's offer of $50,000 in aid but rejected it.
"This was the first time they have accepted an offer of assistance," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, at least based on the "collective memory" of diplomats at the department.
The display of U.S.-Cuban cooperation was not expected to produce any easing in the long-standing hostility between the two countries.
Washington sent a diplomatic note to Cuban officials on Tuesday, a day after day the storm pounded the island nation, offering to send emergency supplies. Cuba accepted the offer Wednesday, McCormack said.
The State Department did not specify what supplies might be sent, but humanitarian assistance generally covers food, medicine, related supplies or emergency housing.
A three-person team from the U.S. Agency for International Development is making travel arrangements now, McCormack said. Additional aid offers would be based on what that team found, and all aid would go to Cuba indirectly, through aid groups, McCormack said.
Cuba and the United States do not have full diplomatic relations, a legacy of more than 40 years of Cold War acrimony. A U.S. trade embargo on Cuba has been in place since the Kennedy administration. More recently, the Bush administration has branded Cuba one of the world's few remaining "outposts of tyranny" in a league with Myanmar, Belarus and Zimbabwe.
Havana offered 1,600 doctors to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the United States on Aug. 29. The State Department said the Cuban help was not needed because enough American doctors had offered their services.
Floodwaters in Havana caused damage to historic buildings and the famed Malecon seawall. Dozens of city blocks were flooded by the storm, but no deaths were reported in Havana. Wilma has been blamed for at least 22 deaths, five in Florida, 12 in Haiti, at least 4 in Mexico and 1 in Jamaica.

1 comment:

UltimateWriter said...

Have you seen the reporters in the middle of the hurricane? Sure they want to cover it. But where is the logic for physically placing yourself on a beach as a hurricane hits? What are they thinking? "Hey maybe no one's done this before." It's the same exact backdrop every time. If it weren't for the graphics, you could take any hurricane footage from the last 20 years and you wouldn't be able to tell which hurricane it was from. Is it more believable to see a guy squinting through the rain holding a microphone getting his raincoat blown away for you to actually say, "Yep, it's real." I don't know about you, but if some weather person sitting in a comfy studio showed me a satellite map of a giant gray spiral covering Florida, that's all the evidence I need. Yes, I believe you already. There IS a hurricane out there!