Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bush Ignores Offer of 1,500 Cuban Doctors for Katrina

Rueters, By Sue Pleming
Tue Sep 6, 5:17 PM ET

The United States gave longtime foe Cuba the cold shoulder on Tuesday over its offer to send more than 1,500 doctors to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, which created a humanitarian disaster after pummeling the U.S. Gulf Coast.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said U.S. officials were reviewing Cuba's offer but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had indicated there was a "robust" response from U.S. doctors who have volunteered to help.

Asked whether this meant Cuba's doctors would not be needed, McCormack replied: "No, I'm not saying that. What I'm trying to do is describe for you the facts of what the response has been. And in terms of the international offers of assistance, our criterion is: What's needed?"

Cuban President Fidel Castro has complained Washington has not responded to its offer and on Sunday he gathered 1,586 doctors in white uniforms ready to be flown to the United States with satchels of medical supplies.

"Go forth, generous defenders of health and life, conquerors of pain and death," the 79-year-old Cuban leader said to the medics, who have been on stand-by in Havana for several days.

Venezuela, which has close ties with Cuba and prickly relations with the United States, offered up to $1 million assistance to the Red Cross. McCormack said he did not have any details on how the United States responded to Venezuela's offer.


Blogger jsb said...

I wish he would welcome the doctors, but if most decided to defect, wouldn't it hurt Cuba's medical abilities at home? Or do doctors just grow on trees in Cuba... I say, bring them here. Now. And if they'd like, give them citizenship. Given the choice to stay in the U.S., most would.

9:00 AM  
Blogger leftside said...

Already 15,000 Cuban doctors are at work abroad... and defections have not been a problem. Cuba has on of the highest proportions of doctors per person in the world.

Bush's State Dept. appears to be saying "no" the the request now, saying "appears to be enough U.S. medical volunteers."

Tell that to a nurse named Lynn McMorris, who worked the triage operation at the airport in New Orleans for a week (as reported in today's LA Times).

"We needed more manpower, more medicine, more everything. It was totally inadequate," McMorris told me at the Lafayette Cajundome, where she now cares for evacuees.

"We'd have 1,400 people in line at triage, and it would take hours to get to them. We had to get a pediatric strike force to go into the crowd and hold up their kids so we could see who was sickest. We had cardiac arrest, everything. We even had an alligator bite, for God's sake. Thirty percent of them had dysentery, and we had to send them back out in the same … clothes they came in with."

McMorris worked 40 hours at a time, and that kind of spirit was abundant everywhere I visited. I saw volunteers by the hundreds at evacuation centers and listened to people call offering jobs, food, clothing, moral support.

1:26 PM  
Blogger jsb said...

"...and defections have not been a problem."

Keep dreaming, Matt. Those in Venezuela who don't feel that their family will be persecuted for it have dropped out within weeks of their departure from Cuba.

8:46 AM  

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