Havana Cuba Business Travel Culture and Politics

Havana Cuba News

Cuba Politics News

Posted November 10, 2008 by publisher in Cuba Human Rights

Email this article | Print this article | Search Havana Journal        

By CBS News Producer Portia Siegelbaum

Cubans already reeling from two devastating hurricanes this year woke up to scenes of yet more destruction.

The first pictures coming out of Santa Cruz del Sur, where late-season Hurricane Paloma made landfall Saturday evening as a Category 3 storm, reveal a cat’s cradle of wooden beams and bricks - all that is left of this city of some 10,000 people.

A massive evacuation operation protected lives here where nearly 76 years ago to the day a hurricane left 3,000 dead.

One million Cubans in central and eastern Cuba prepare for Hurricane Paloma to hit. Portia Siegelbaum reports from Havana (Sorry for the 30 second ad, that’s from CBS but the video is worth waiting for.)

There are no estimates yet of the latest economic damage, but observers say infrastructure took less of a hit than was feared. Still, for the local residents of this south central fishing community, the personal property losses are huge.

Civil defense workers and some dogs can be seen picking their way through the rubble dominating the landscape where only an occasional house has been left standing. The main communication tower was brought down, broken in half like a toothpick, by hurricane force winds of 120 mph. Storm surge drove sea waters for a mile inland as four-foot-high waves swamped wooden homes closest to the coast.

Trees and shrubs bordering the sea look like clotheslines festooned with sheets and shirts, tossed there by the wind as walls went down. Refrigerators and washing machines were picked up like childrens toys, according to residents, and have been left lying in the sand.

Paloma weakened as it sped northward over central Cuba, finally departing in the early hours of Sunday as a tropical depression.

Earlier this year, Hurricanes Ike and Gustav caused damage topping $8 billion and destroyed one-third of the island’s food crops. And rain and flooding from Paloma have reportedly destroyed fields planted with quick-growing crops that the Government has promoted in an effort to avoid greater food shortages.

Since it was hit by the first two storms in August-September, the Communist government has accepted aid from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, various U.N. agencies, and from countries ranging from Russia, Brazil, Mexico and Canada to China and Venezuela. It’s come in the form of food, water filters, temporary shelter materials, mosquito netting, mattresses and other necessities.

One country Cuba says it won’t take aid from is the United States, which offered $5 million after Hurricanes Ike and Gustav.

Vice President Jose Ramon Machado, in Santa Cruz this morning to assess the damage, reiterated the government’s refusal saying, “We already gave our opinion about this, we made our point clear. The problem here is the embargo; that is what is causing the real damage. It’s been going on for 40 years. That’s what must be evaluated when people talk about ‘aid,’ the rest is pure hypocrisy.”

Instead of handouts, Havana wants the U.S. to allow them to buy the needed food and construction materials without demanding cash in advance, and without the slew of restrictions that now govern one-way trade between the two nations (as Washington prohibits the importation of any goods from Cuba).

  1. Follow up post #1 added on November 10, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Where’s Raul? Fidel? Anyone running the country?

    Cuba consulting services

Would you like to add more information?

Only members can add more information. Please register or log in

  • Advertise at Havana Journal Inc
We recommend this AirBnB Food and Drink Experience... Cuban flavors: Food, Rum and Cigars
Images of Cuba
Transferring Cuban sugar cane by railroad in 1906
Follow Havana Journal
SUBSCRIBE to our Cuba Watch newsletter
LIKE us on Facebook

FOLLOW us on Twitter

CONNECT with us on Linked In

Section Archive
Havana Journal, Inc. BBB Business Review

Member of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy