What Would Castro Do?

In September 2004, Hurricane Ivan, a Category 5 hurricane, battered Cuba with 160-mile-per-hour winds. More than 1.5 million Cubans were evacuated, with their pets and prized possessions, to higher ground ahead of the storm. Although the hurricane destroyed 20,000 houses, no one was killed.

According to Marjorie Cohn, the United Nations International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction cited Cuba as a model for hurricane preparation. ISDR director Salvano Briceno said, "The Cuban way could easily be applied to other countries with similar economic conditions and even in countries with greater resources that do not manage to protect their population as well as Cuba does."

So why doesn't Cuba offer to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina? They did. The State Department has received offers of aid from countries ranging from Holland to El Salvador, but in their official statement there's no mention of Venezuela's offer of cheap fuel or Cuba's offer of medical resources. The State Department says it hasn't decided whether to "accept these offers." I guess even in the midst of disaster, there's no such thing as being too proud.

Castro himself has a rambling defense of his country's offer, that while boastful and strange, accurately represents Cuba's depth of medical resources.


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