Hurricane Irma: Support the Canadian Campaign for Cuban Relief and Reconstruction

Massive flooding in Cuba’s capital Havana in wake of the powerful Hurricane Irma. Across Cuba, people are working hard to enact a speedy recovery.

I wish to urge all readers to respond to this call for aid to assist Cuba by contributing whatever you can. Canadians have a special place in their hearts for Cuba, yet the media is largely blocking out any objective information either on the effect of Hurricane Irma or on the response by the Cuban people and their government – both to prepare in advance and now to recover and reconstruct. A one hour program broadcast by CBC’s The National that I watched literally devoted but one minute out of the 60 to Cuba. Prof Susan Babbit put it more poignantly, “Cuba was there in the CBC newscasts about Florida. It was the country under the satellite image, under the ‘lingering’ eye of category five Irma. For hours, that awful image was in the background as the CBC anchor kept returning to Florida’s need for gas.”

It seems that the corollary is that what little “aid” has been promised by the Canadian government is not according to humanitarian need but an agenda according to a hierarchy; for example, the Canadian Forces are flying aid from France to French colonies, as well as to British colonies. Let us show the real heart of Canada and friendship with the people of Cuba as with the other small island states of the Caribbean and other lands by responding to this timely appeal!


By Isaac Saney, National Spokesperson, Canadian Network on Cuba

Hurricane Irma menaced and devastated the eastern and northern Caribbean, striking Cuba from September 8-10, resulting in significant and widespread damage. Accompanied by massive flooding, its sweeping destruction encompassed housing, communications, infrastructure, agricultural equipment, crops, and community buildings.

While we are confident that the Cuban people will overcome any challenges posed by Hurricane Irma, Cuba will nevertheless have to expend considerable resources, both immediate and long term, in order to overcome the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Irma.

To assist Cuba in its immense efforts of recovery and reconstruction, the Canadian Network On Cuba (CNC) is launching the Hurricane Irma Relief & Reconstruction for Cuba Campaign.

In recent years, the CNC has had a series of successful Hurricane Relief Campaigns. The most recent was in 2016 when Hurricane Matthew struck eastern Cuba, devastating Baracoa, Cuba’s oldest city. In 2008, the CNC’s most extensive campaign was launched when a series of hurricanes caused damage in excess of $10 billion. The CNC not only raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, but also directly participated in the construction of a new social and cultural centre on La Isla de La Juventud (Isle of Youth).

In 2017, as Cuba faces this latest challenge, we are confident that Canadians — as they have repeatedly done — will once again demonstrate their friendship and solidarity with Cuba by supporting the island as it recovers from the ravages of Hurricane Irma.

First Vice President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez (centre) inspects recovery operations at the severely damaged Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric plant in Matanzas, September 13, 2017.

Our experience with regard to Cuba’s response to natural disasters is that it knows how to multiply the value of any donations it receives. We feel confident, based on the island’s unsurpassed humanitarian work — both within Cuba and in other countries — that it has the skills, the organization and the ethical and moral values to put whatever assistance it receives to the best possible use.

Even at this difficult time, in the midst of Hurricane Irma’s havoc, Cuba’s deep internationalist spirit has once again been profoundly demonstrated by the sending of more than 750 Cuban health workers to Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Haiti, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, and the Bahamas.

As in past campaigns, we hope that solidarity organizations and individuals will generously support Cuba in its efforts to rebuild after this devastating hurricane.

Send donations to:

CNC Hurricane Relief
56 Riverwood Terrace
Bolton, ON L7E 1S4

Please make cheques out to the Canadian Network On Cuba and write “CNC Hurricane Irma Relief Fund” on your cheque’s memo line.

All donations will be forwarded 100 per cent directly to Cuba.

(September 10, 2017. Photos: Granma)


 

Appeal to Our Fighting People

Raúl Castro (right), in his capacity as President of the National Defense Council, leads a meeting with Communist Party of Cuba, state and government leaders on September 13, 2017, to evaluate the damage from Irma and the actions to be undertaken during the recovery phase.

Hurricane Irma, with its destructive force, lashed out at our Island for more than 72 hours, from the morning of Friday, September 8 to Sunday, September 10. With winds that at times surpassed 250 kilometres per hour, it crossed the north of the country from Baracoa – also punished by another phenomenon of this type almost a year ago – to the vicinity of Cardenas. However, by the immensity of its size practically no territory was freed of its effects.

Called by experts the largest hurricane formed in the Atlantic, this meteorological phenomenon caused severe damage to the country, which, precisely because of its size, has not yet been quantified. A preliminary look evidences damage to housing, the national power grid and agriculture.

In addition, it hit some of our main tourist destinations, however, we will restore the damages before the start of the peak season. We have the necessary human and material resources, as this is one of the main sources of income for the national economy.

These have been hard days for our people, who in only a few hours have seen how everything we have built with great effort has been struck down by a devastating hurricane. The pictures of the last hours are eloquent, as is the spirit of resistance and victory of our people who are reborn with every adversity.

In these difficult circumstances, paramount have been the unity of the Cubans, the solidarity among the neighbours, the discipline to follow the instructions issued by the National Civil Defense General Staff and the Defense Councils at all levels, the professionalism of the specialists at the Institute of Meteorology, the immediacy of our media and journalists, the support of mass organizations, as well as the cohesion of the governing bodies of the National Defense Council. Special mention to all our women, including the leaders of the Party and the Government, who with steadiness and maturity directed and faced the difficult situation.

In the days to come, there will be a lot of work, where the strength of the Cubans and the indestructible confidence in their Revolution will once again be demonstrated. It is not time to mourn, but to rebuild what the winds of Hurricane Irma tried to disappear.

With organization, discipline and the integration of all our structures, we will go ahead as we have done on previous occasions. Let us not fool ourselves, the task before us is immense. But with a people like ours we will win the most important battle: recovery.

At this crucial moment, the Central Trade Union Organization of Cuba (CTC) and the National Association of Small Farmers, together with other mass organizations, will have to redouble their efforts to erase as soon as possible the aftermath of this destructive event.

A principle remains unchanged: the Revolution will not leave anyone homeless and measures are already taken so that no Cuban family is left to their fate.

As has been customary every time a weather phenomenon hits us, there are many signs of solidarity received from all over the world. Heads of State and Government, political organizations and friends of solidarity movements have expressed their willingness to help us, which we thank on behalf of the more than eleven million Cubans.

Let us face the recovery with the example of Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, who with his permanent faith in victory and strong will has taught us that there are no impossible tasks. In these difficult hours, his legacy makes us strong and unites us.

Raul Castro Ruz

(Havana, 10 September 2017. Granma English translation edited slightly for grammar.)


Spontaneous display of unity and support for the recovery efforts in Havana.


Downed trees are cleared in Mayabeque province. Plans are underway to see that all suitable organic debris is composted for use in the agricultural sector.


Repair of power lines in Camagüey province. Getting the electrical system up and running is a high priority. Despite the severe damage, 87 per cent of Cubans have had their electricity restored as of September 15, 2017.


Classes resume in Granma province, September 12, 2017.

(Photos: Granma, R. Almirante, Adelante, ANC.)

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