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Foto tomada el 10 de septiembre de 2017, de habitantes que caminan por una calle inundada tras el paso del huracán Irma, en La Habana (Cuba). EFE
Foto tomada el 10 de septiembre de 2017, de habitantes que caminan por una calle inundada tras el paso del huracán Irma, en La Habana (Cuba). EFE

[OP-ED]: Despite the Horror of Irma, Cuba Va!

The time is for Cuban-Americans to jump on a plane and travel to Cuba to help their families recover and rebuild and put cash in the pockets of their…

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“It looks like the end of the world,” a stunned Cuban man said to a Spanish-language TV reporter in the city of Remedios after the passing of Irma, the monstrous storm that caused unspeakable damage to the island of Cuba.

Yes, it does look like the end of the world, as countless reports and almost incredible pictures have shown to a disbelieving world. Which is why at a time like this, when it is clear that offsetting the losses –both personal and financial—caused by the hurricane in the Caribbean and Florida will take a long time and many billions of dollars, there is no place for petty politicking or hypocritical excuses. The time calls for rolling up our sleeves and helping in every possible way. 

Cuba was one of the countries hit hardest by the fury of the ciclón, the strongest storm to hit the island in 85 years. It left 10 dead and caused catastrophic destruction and flooding across the nation. Yet, Cuba being Cuba, politics makes everything complicated to the point of ridiculousness, and provides phony excuses not to help to those who claim to care for the people of the island, but in reality are only using its suffering to advance their political careers or justify their lack of solidarity.

That Washington had not expressed any intention or desire to help alleviate the human suffering in Cuba is not surprising. After all, president Donald Trump is not exactly known for his compassion or international solidarity.

But one has to ask why not one of the so-called Cuban-American politicians –the Marco Rubios, the Díaz-Balarts, the Ileana Roses—has come out in public to ask the government of the country they are part of, to support the people of the country they keep proclaiming to love.

And one has to ask why not one of the most visible and vocal Cuban-American show business figures –Gloria Estefan, Pit Bull, and so on—is talking about organizing a Concert for Cuba, or something along those lines, to bring relief to the difficult situation the people of the island are going through.

Not to mention the absurd and hypocritical petty debates among some South Florida Cubans that only result in harming efforts to help Cuba.

“There are those (in Miami) who say that if help is channeled through the church, they won’t give, and those who say that if it is going to be handled through the government they won’t give. And there are those who say that if the Cuban people do not rise up they won’t send any help,” wrote in Facebook Elay Rodríguez, a young Cuban-American resident in Miami. “And there are those who will help Cuba unconditionally, in any shape or form, anytime and anywhere. Those are the ones who help.”

Fortunately, despite the differences, discussions and byzantine debates, there is no doubt the majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami and the rest of the U.S. want nothing more than to help and comfort their families in Cuba. 

The time is for Cuban-Americans to jump on a plane and travel to Cuba to help their families recover and rebuild and put cash in the pockets of their compatriots who need support for repair their homes and put food on the table.

The obsolete and cruel embargo should be lifted, although it is clear there are those who hope tragedies such as this will accomplish what more than 50 years of bloqueo have failed to achieve — they want Cuba to collapse. 

But that will never happen. As the traditional Cuban revolutionary song says, Cuba va! With the effort of its people and the solidarity of decent human beings around the world, Cuba will live on.

If you want to donate to relief efforts in Cuba, you can do so through Oxfam, UNICEF and Caritas. More information can be found in their websites.

 

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