Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Help Cuba recover from Gustav: Obama says ease restrictions

Barack Obama and the three Democrats running for Congress in South Florida against Bush rubber-stamps have a common platform on the Cuba embargo: relax it only after Cuba makes progress toward democracy, but meanwhile ease restrictions on family visits to Cuba and on sending money to relatives in Cuba.

On Wednesday the devastation caused by Hurricane Gustav in Cuba became better known – Fidel Castro authored a newspaper column likening it to an “atomic bomb” – and the Obama campaign led the way with a call to suspend restrictions on helping Cubans for at least 90 days.

Here’s a statement from the Obama campaign quoting Sen. Obama:

"I wish to express my deepest sympathies for those affected by Hurricane Gustav, particularly the untold number affected in Cuba, who face the daunting task of reconstructing their lives with the weight of the failed Castro regime on their shoulders.

“This is a time when the Cuban people – not Castro – need and deserve American compassion and assistance. Make no mistake – the embargo must remain, and I strongly oppose any aid to the Castro regime.

”The Cuban American community stands ready to directly assist their family members in this time of need. A failed Bush administration policy, however, stands in the way of moral and necessary aid.

“Today I join with leaders in the Cuban American community in calling on President Bush to immediately suspend restrictions on family remittances, visits and humanitarian care packages from Cuban Americans for a minimum of 90 days.”

In Miami, challenger Raul Martinez, running to take FL-21 from Lincoln Diaz-Balart, said there was a “moral obligation” for Cuban Americans to aid their relatives in Cuba. He and Ramon Saul Sanchez, head of the Democracy Movement, called on President Bush to temporarily lift travel and other restrictions.

The rules imposed by the Bush administration before the 2004 election limit exiles to visiting Cuba once every three years and only sending $300 to close relatives every three months.

Annette Taddeo, challenging in FL-18, started a month ago asking incumbent Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to relax the restrictions on travel and remittances but has had no response. Taddeo said she would increase her efforts now that the hurricane has caused heavy damage.

Joe Garcia, running to take FL-25 from Mario Diaz-Balart, issued a statement urging people to donate to the Red Cross for hurricane relief, and also for the government to revise its strict policy on helping Cubans.

“Due to the incompetence of Castro’s brutal regime, it is only through the aid of family members that innocent victims in Cuba will be able to rebuild in the wake of these storms,” Garcia said in a statement. “The thoughts and prayers of my family and campaign are with all the victims of Gustav and those in the grips of Hanna.”

1 comment:

Walter Lippmann said...

People who really want to help Cuba want the US to make it possible for people from the United States to help Cubans to rebuild after the massive devastation caused by Hurricane Gustav.

Here’s just one example among many:

by Dr. Alberto N. Jones September 3, 2008

Three days after hurricane Gustav hit Cuba, the news coming out of the western region are dramatic, devastating and urgent. Tens of thousands of people are without the most basic means of survival, while we, Cuban-Americans who proclaims to respect the Independence and Sovereignty of that nation, are submerged in an endless diatribe, while men, women and children suffer severe and unnecessary needs.

I am therefore making a profound appeal for unity to all men without social distinction, race, creed or sex, to unite our efforts, ignore past postures or antagonistic affiliations, by extending a helping and solidarity hand to our brothers that are suffering in Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

No decision or action that we may assume, should have any discriminatory character, sectarian of preferential treatment, which would only aggravate the present tragic situation. Neither must we dilute ourselves attempting to invent the wheel or ice water.

For years, people of all ethnic groups and social stratifications in the United States and beyond, have supported the Caribbean American Children Foundation in our efforts to mitigate the material needs of our people. We learned to beg, accept donations, package, ship and verify its use.

Together, we can turn a child tears into a smile. Suffice to overcome our bashfulness, courage and dignity, for some of us to begin to collect material goods, others money, still others lending their shipping license and together, without names or divisive titles, let’s ship massive amounts of donations with no strings attached, to defenseless victims of these endless natural disasters.

Alberto Nelson Jones
September 3, 2008