Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Facts About Humanitarian Aide to Cuba

"You’re entitled to your own opinions. You’re not entitled to your own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Ana Cecilia ship arrives in Cuba
International news media are reporting that: "Cuba receives first US shipment in 50 years" but that is not true. The State Department reported in 2008 that:
The American people are the largest providers of humanitarian aid to the Cuban people, and Cuba's top supplier of food. In 2007, the American people provided $240.5 million in private humanitarian assistance in the form of gift parcels filled with food and other basic necessities ($179.4 million), non-agricultural humanitarian donations ($20.6 million), and medical donations ($40.5 million). The United States Government also authorized $3.65 billion in sales of agricultural products ($3.621 billion) and sales of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals ($20.6 million). 
 Miami Cuban exiles have firsthand experience on how the Castro regime responds to humanitarian aide shipments. Back in October of 1996 Cuban exiles donated 72,000 pounds of rice, beans and powdered milk that was shipped to Cuba aboard a 707 cargo plane from Miami International Airport on October 27, 1996 to provide aide following Hurricane Lily's destructive path across the island. The aide arrived but regime officials refused to allow its distribution for days and days the relief supplies sat in Havana warehouses while Cubans went without. The aide was finally delivered on November 4, 1996 but 10% of it was not delivered because the regime objected to messages on the aide boxes such as: "exilio (exile) and Por Cuba, el amor todo lo puede (For Cuba, love conquers all)."

In 2006 when hurricanes Ike and Gustav slammed into Cuba causing extensive damage it was the Cuban dictatorship that turned down offers of  humanitarian assistance from the United States despite calls from the American government for the regime to reconsider its decision

Finally, the claim that this is the first shipment from the United States in 50 years fails to mention that since 2001 over $3.5 billion dollars worth of agricultural products have been shipped to Cuba by American companies. The real story is whether or not the humanitarian aide will reach Cubans or be confiscated by the dictatorship and be redirected elsewhere or resold.

The goal of this exercise in self-deception is seen in the following head line: "US aid ship in Cuba: Ending the embargo?" Ships have brought humanitarian assistance from the United States for years. The claim now is that since a ship brought a shipment from Miami to Cuba that this is some sort of great change. In reality it is much ado about nothing which sums up the accomplishments of the anti-sanctions lobby on Cuba. This is because the dictatorship has demonstrated its intransigence for democratic reforms and has gone back and forth over the past 30 years on so-called economic reforms.

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