Cuba Politics

Martinez: Cuban aid should be welcomed

Posted September 10, 2005 by Dana Garrett in Cuba Politics.

Posted on Thu, Sep. 08, 2005

Sen. Mel Martinez said he was ‘grateful’ for Cuba’s offer to send doctors to assist in the Katrina relief effort, though the Bush administration has not responded to the offer.

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WASHINGTON - Florida Republican Sen. Mel Martinez said Wednesday that the U.S. government should accept Cuba’s offer to send hundreds of doctors to treat victims of Hurricane Katrina, provided they are needed and ``reasonably well-trained.’‘
Cuban leader Fidel Castro has offered to send nearly 1,600 physicians, potentially introducing another element of friction in the four-decade-long confrontation between the two adversaries. The Bush administration has said it will accept all offers of aid, but has also suggested that the United States did not need more doctors.

Castro’s offer has put the administration in a tight spot. Refusal could be perceived as placing politics before the needs of victims.

Martinez, the first Cuban American to serve in the U.S. Senate, said he wondered if it was ‘‘appropriate’’ for Cuba to send the doctors, because many had already been dispatched to Venezuela and there was a shortage of medical help on the island. Cuba sends Venezuela doctors as part of payment for subsidized oil.

‘‘But if we need doctors, and Cuba offers them and they provide good service, of course we should accept them,’’ he said in his Washington office. ``And we’re grateful for that offer.’‘


Martinez is distancing himself from some of his fellow Cuban-American lawmakers.
Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said: ``I see no need for us to accept the doctors, because we have many U.S. doctors who can meet the medical needs of Katrina’s victims. Cuban doctors should take care of poor Cubans who lack proper medical care on the island.’‘

Martinez recalled how Cuba rejected a U.S. offer to send $50,000 when the island was ravaged by Hurricane Dennis in July. ‘‘I regretted that,’’ he said.

Castro has refused all U.S. aid as long as Washington maintains the trade embargo against the island.

The Bush administration has not responded to Cuba’s offer, which was made over a week ago.

‘‘We will wait as many days as necessary,’’ Castro said Sunday, when he thanked the doctors, many of whom had volunteered for the service.


Martinez also welcomed an offer by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a close ally of Castro and a fierce critic of the Bush administration, to donate $1 million to the Red Cross. Venezuela will also ship one million barrels of oil to the United States this month, in addition to the usual exports. Venezuela is the fourth-largest exporter of crude oil to the United States.

Asked if he thought Chávez was using the offer for political purposes, Martinez said, ``I think at this time we accept any offers of assistance in good faith. He’s offered oil. That would be very helpful.’‘
In December 1999, Washington dispatched two boatloads of aid for Venezuela when more than 15,000 people perished in mudslides. But Chávez refused help, and the vessels, which were transporting members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, were turned back. Venezuela never gave a reason for the refusal.

Member Comments

On September 11, 2005, bernie wrote:

Many Americans would have liked Venezuela donate
to the Salvation Army instead of the Red Cross.

As of April 2005, Harold Decker past president/general counsel of the American Red Cross receives a salary of $1,324,324.00
plus an expence account.  The current President also receives
a salary of $1,000,000.00 plus.
Check it out at [url=][/url]

On September 12, 2005, Dana Garrett wrote:

I wonder if Martinez taking such a view—controversial in FL politics, perfectly sensible everywhere else—is a measure of how desperate the situation is in the Gulf coast region, a degree of desperartion a US Senator might know but the public doesn’t. I can’t think of another reason why he would take such a stand. 

On September 15, 2005, waldo wrote:

Cuban Aid shold had been welcomed anyway. But, Miami blind intransigence most probably instructed Bush not to accept, and Bush not really knowing what was going on or what to do, went along for more votes from Miami.

On September 15, 2005, waldo wrote:

On Friday September 2 Cuban President Fidel Castro offered to send no strings attached 1100 Doctors and specialists to Aid Victims of Devastating Hurricane Katrina, but till now the White House remains silent, while the US media maintains a very low or no profile on the subject. The 1100 medical specialists, each carrying 24 kilograms of medication and the necessary resources to assist emergency situations have international experience and knowledge of Basic English.
While plenty of soldiers, guns and military equipment slowly continue to arrive, the need for doctors and medical personnel still is immense and vital. Not many American Doctors appear to have volunteered to help or work, especially in remote or chaotic areas, and the 1100 Cubans who One hundred doctors were ready to leave early Saturday morning for Houston, Texas. A second group of 500 Cuban doctors were also ready to depart to the US on Saturday afternoon and a third of 500 specialists Sunday morning. have been ready and do have experience working in remote areas, would make a significant difference.
Why then does the White House continue to ignore Cubaís noble and extraordinary humanitarian offer? Is it standard Republican politics, typical capitalistic reaction or because the victims are not well to do Anglo-Saxons? But wait; could it possibly be that the mighty Caesar be waiting instructions from Miami? Whatever the reason(s), the Bush Administration and its vast media outlets silence are ridiculously lacking real leadership and not worthy of a genuine government for the people.
Leroy Brokeblack, New Orleans, Louisiana.