When the US administration hypocritically offered $100,000 in aid to cope with the catastrophe caused by hurricane Gustav --after an in situ inspection to assess the damages-- the response was that Cuba could not accept any donation from the country blockading it. Also, that the damages had already been assessed and that we only asked for the ban to be lifted on the export of indispensable material and credits associated with commercial transactions.
Some in the North shouted themselves hoarse that Cuba’s refusal was unthinkable.
Then, a few days later, when hurricane Ike swept the country from the Punta de Maisi to Cabo San Antonio (from east to west) the neighbors to the North were smarter; they softened their language. They spoke of planes ready to leave with products valued in 5 million USD and said that an assessment would not be required since they had already done it with their own means; what else if not espionage on our country. This time they would put the Revolution in a spot, they thought; if we dared refuse the offer we would be in trouble with our people. Perhaps they believed that no one here had watched the images brought by the United States TV networks of the UN occupation forces distributing food to the hungry Haitians who fought over it through a barbwire fence with the result of several injured children.
Hunger in that country is the consequence of the long and ruthless plundering of the peoples. There, in Gonaive, our physicians have been risking their lives caring for the population as they do in almost every municipality of that nation. This cooperation has continued to be provided there the same as in tens of other nations in the world, despite the hurricanes. The new and shrewd Note received a categorical response: “…our country cannot accept a donation from the government that is blockading it; however, it is willing to purchase indispensable material that the US companies export to other markets. Therefore, it requests authorization for such exports as well as for the credits which is the common procedure in every commercial transaction.
“If the US administration does not wish to do this permanently, Cuba requests authorization for at least the following six months, particularly mindful of the damages caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike and the fact the most dangerous months of the hurricane season are still to come.”
It was not an arrogant reply; it is not Cuba’s style. As can be seen in the Note, the view was modestly expressed that it would suffice with the lifting of the ban for a limited period of time.
On Friday 12th, the US Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez, dismissed the notion that the blockade could be temporarily lifted.
Obviously, the government of that powerful country is unable to understand that our people’s dignity is priceless. The wave of solidarity with Cuba, which comes from both big and small countries, with resources and even without them, would no longer exist if Cuba relinquished its dignity. Those who in our country are upset about it are absolutely wrong. If instead of $5 million the figure were $5 billion the answer would still be the same. Not any money can pay for the thousands of lives lost, the suffering of our people and the over $200 billion lost to the blockade and the Yankee aggressions.
The partial official report explained to our people that in less than ten days the country had lost over five billion dollars. It was also explained that the estimates were made according to historic and conventional prices rather inconsistent with reality. It should not be forgotten that “the estimates of losses in terms of housing were made on the basis of historic and conventional prices, and not on their real value at international prices. Suffice it to say that in order to build a lasting house that would put up with the strongest winds a basic element is required which is in very short supply: labor force. This is needed both for a temporary repair and for a lasting construction. That labor force has to be distributed among a number of production and services centers, some of them badly damaged, thus the real value of a house in the world and the repay of the corresponding investment is often greater.”
Nature dealt us a heavy blow but it is encouraging to know that our struggle will continue steadily and restlessly.
There is no final answer to the economic crisis hitting the United States, and consequently every other country in the world. But, there certainly is an answer in our country to natural disasters and to every attempt at putting a price on our dignity.
Fidel Castro Ruz
September 16, 2008