September 4, 2008
The New York Times has reported the following:
MEXICO CITY — The United States State Department said Thursday that it had offered humanitarian aid to Cuban victims of Hurricane Gustav, provided that it went through relief organizations and not the government of President Raúl Castro.
“The U.S. government informed the Cuban government that we’re prepared to offer hurricane assistance to the Cuban citizens,” said Heide Bronke, a State Department spokeswoman. “We’ve made the offer, but we haven’t heard from them yet.”
All six Cuban-American members of Congress have called this week for the Bush administration to aid victims of the storm, which tore through the western province of Pinar del Río and the Isle of Youth over the weekend, causing what the Cuban government estimates to be billions of dollars in damage.
The offer from the United States, which was made Wednesday through the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, calls for an initial $100,000 in emergency aid. The State Department also offered to send disaster experts from the United States Agency for International Development to Cuba to assess damage. Initial estimates by the United States put the number of Cubans affected by the storm at 500,000.
Whether Cuba would accept such assistance from Washington remains to be seen. The countries have a long history of animosity when it comes to disaster aid.
JG: I will offer my own opinion. The government of Raul Castro is the legitimate government of the Cuban people, and all aid should be channeled through it.
The United States Agency for International Development is not a trust worthy organization.
The Cuban people can do their own assessment of the damages inflicted by Gustav.