This Sept. 30 letter from Keith Ellis, Coordinator of the 2017 Canadian Network on Cuba Hurricane Relief campaign, reports on the progress of this important work.
Our campaign is off to a good start thanks to a spirit in which suggestions and initiatives are being taken in an organized way that keeps reminding us of one of Fidel’s frequently repeated dictums: “cada soldado un comandante” (every soldier a commander). This spirit was abundantly evident in a very successful event held last Friday, September 22, in Toronto by the end of which, combined with other events, and including donations received from other parts of the country, we can say that we have so far collected $35,000.
We fully expect that this spirit will continue to be manifested here and throughout Canada, as we try to help the admirably courageous Cuban people who themselves are so deeply and intelligently involved in this recuperative effort against the terrible effects of Hurricane Irma.
You will be pleased to know that Venezuela was prompt in beginning to provide its substantial aid to Cuba. President Maduro himself arrived in Havana with one of the first shipments on September 21. Also, very promptly too, Venezuela and Cuba have announced their plans to aid Puerto Rico. Venezuela has proposed a “special plan of support and solidarity.” Cuba has 39 doctors ready to go to help its historically sister island (the phrase “dos alas del mismo pájaro” [two wings of the same bird] was first applied to Cuba and Puerto Rico when they were both struggling against colonialism).
For us, as simple human beings, not corrupted or dehumanized by the big media, this response by Cuba and Venezuela will seem to be commendable and inspiring. But don’t be surprised if it further incites the punitive anger of our Minister of External Affairs, Chrystia Freeland. She knows that the plan of the moneyed vultures, some of them well-placed in the Trump administration, is to take advantage of Puerto Rico’s heightened crisis, to squeeze the “associate state” to the point of asphyxiation, so that it will offer privatization of its publicly-owned assets at give-away prices as the only exit from the crisis. The Puerto Rican people will thus become enslaved to the new owners for use of erstwhile public utilities. A part of Hillary Clinton’s family benefited in just this way from the very tardy response to the horrendous Haiti earthquake of 2010.
You will remember how prompt Cuba and Venezuela were in their response to that great tragedy, when within the first twenty-four hours some 1100 medical interventions were carried out by the Cuban medical team that happened to be in Haiti on a different humanitarian mission.
Alas, a similar rapidity of response cannot be achieved in the case of Puerto Rico. It is U.S. territory; and permission, as in the case of Hurricane Katrina, will have to be obtained from that country’s government in order for Cuba and Venezuela to carry out their humanitarian activities there. Permission was denied in the case of Katrina, at the expense of many lives. We hope that when President Trump gets there, as he is scheduled to do on Tuesday, the 3rd of October, he will make a just assessment of the people’s needs and allow appropriate interventions.
During his slow, apparently reluctant, journey to the nearby island, he is taking every opportunity to remind his 3.5 million unfortunate compatriots there that they have a pre-hurricane debt of 70 billion dollars to New York banks that must be paid.
An interesting proposal aired by President Maduro is to work toward making Puerto Rico eligible for membership in CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States).
Let us remember always, as we raise funds for Cuba, that our efforts are never ever linked to swindlers’ pipe-dreams, to frauds, of the kinds that may well be hoodwinking our Minister of External Affairs, but to short-term and long-term help to and solidarity with the Cuban people and their government.
Cheques should be written to “CNC,” with the following words on the memo line. – “Hurricane Relief”. They should be mailed: c/o Sharon Skup, 56 Riverwood Terrace, Bolton ON L7E 1S4
Un abrazo, Keith Ellis, Coordinator, 2017 CNC Hurricane Relief Campaign