In the wake of Hurricane Irma, we extend our solidarity towards the impacted peoples of the Caribbean and renew our commitment with Cuba!
Hurricane Irma has devastated the Caribbean countries causing immense damage to infrastructure, agriculture, homes, electrical production and distribution as well as water supplies. It has brought in its wake not only destruction but also death. Tens of millions of people have had their lives severely disrupted and millions remain homeless. The José Martí Cultural Association in Athens extends its solidarity to the peoples of the Lesser Antilles, the Bahamas, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, the state of Florida in the USA and elsewhere.
In all these places the masses of people, the poor, the workers and farmers, the small shopkeepers and others like them were left to their own devices. The authorities simply issued orders to evacuate. However, no real effort was made to move people safely and in an organized fashion to shelters where beds, food, water and medical care was provided. This resulted in untold misery for millions. We realize that it is working people in all these lands that have been hit hardest as it is they who were left abandoned to face their fate.
We also extend our solidarity to the people of socialist Cuba who have also been hit hard by Irma. But unlike the places mentioned above, in Cuba the Civil Defense organized to move over 1 million people – among them tens of thousands of foreign tourists – in an organized fashion to shelters where they were provided full meals and medical care. All these were done at state expense. It is also worth mentioning that while Cuba was facing the devastating impact of Irma, it sent a plane load of electricians to Antigua to help repair that island’s electrical system. This contrast, once again underlies the humanistic values of socialist Cuba and the disdain by the ruling authorities for working people in the capitalist world.
Cuba’s electrical infrastructure, hotel industry and agriculture have been severely damaged by Irma. This will have a severe impact on the country’s economy for several years. The political and economic crisis in Venezuela has also negatively impacted cuban economy. Venezuela is one of Cuba’s main trading partners and in an act of solidarity has for years provided Cuba with oil at advantageous prices. These blows come on top of the asphyxiating economic, trade and financial embargo that Washington continues to impose on the Cuban people, recently strengthened by Trump administration despite the establishment of diplomatic relations. This embargo has been a main obstacle towards Cuba’s development for over 5 decades.
Reconstruction has already begun as Cuba’s working people are once more confidently mobilizing to face the new challenges.
However, at this difficult time for the Cuban people it becomes all the more important to demand an immediate end to the US embargo.