Friday, September 09, 2005

Can We Learn From Cuba?



Now at a time when we are all trying to figure out what went wrong and how we should have acted better, why is this the first and only story I have read about Cuba's exemplery model of Hurricane preparation in the US press? I wonder. It might be the same reason we're not accepting the offer of 1,566 Doctors. Instead, our governement sees fit to 1) first ignore the offer by not publicly acknowledging it until the press started asking questions at State, 2) try to mealy-mouth their way around the issue by not accepting it nor denying it, 3) use the offer as an excuse to take swipes at the man who made the generous offer. Too bad our so-called liberal LA Times editorial page chief sees fit to do the same, by comparing Castro to Osama Bin Laden in their supposed shared "glee" over the disaster. Never mind the nationall televised moment of silence Castro led while Bush was still nowhere to be seen. Disgusting.

The tiny country is known for its hurricane planning that keeps its people prepared and fatalities low.

September 9, 2005
By SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN

Before Hurricane Ivan whipped Cuba last year with 160 mph winds, the government evacuated nearly 2-million people. The result: not a single death or serious injury.

Although it is a small, poor country in the heart of hurricane alley, Cuba is widely acknowledged to do an exemplary job of protecting its 11.3-million residents from natural disasters. Its record is even more impressive in light of the catastrophic loss of life that the United States - the world's richest and most technologically advanced nation - is experiencing from Hurricane Katrina.

"Cuba has not only an evacuation plan but an overall plan for hurricanes and other disasters that is very well developed and organized," says Dusan Zupka of the United Nations' International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction.

"I would dare to say that Cuba is a good example for other countries in terms of preparedness and prevention."

Cuba's form of government - communist and authoritarian - undoubtedly helps it to quickly mobilize in emergencies. But the real key to success is a "culture of safety" in which people at all levels of government and society are committed to reducing risks and saving lives, according to a study by Oxfam, a charity that works in ravaged areas worldwide."

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3 Comments:

Blogger jsb said...

I'm surprised you finally printed a quote describing Cuba as "poor". Bully for you. Perhaps you're seeing the light.

I was hoping Bush would accept the doctors that Castro offered. They would have been 1500 new American citizens within weeks of their arrival.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Mark D. Glesne said...

Well done j.scott, well done!!

*stands and claps*

But I'm sure Matthew will quickly inform you/us that Cuba is not poor because of its brutal dictator or the police state's socialist economic policies, but because of the big bad United States and its embargos. After all, Cuba is the beacon of freedom for all to aspire to.

Right Matt?

12:10 PM  
Blogger leftside said...

Yes, I said the country is poor economically, but its people are certainly not impoverished... as the UN report showed so clearly.

And yeah, clearly the blockade has had HUGE effects (to the tune of $80 billion), as has the collapse of the Soviet Union. But if you want to assign blame to its brutal dictator and socialist economic policies, then you also have to acknowledge the achievements as Castro's own as well. For example, the UN report showed the Cuba's economy has been the 4th fastest "developed" economy (the top 57 countries) since 1999. Today it's GDP is growing at more than 7%. And in Cuba, the windfalls go directly to the workers, not the rich in tax breaks. He's nearly doubled the minimum wage, and increased pay for teachers and health professionals in the past year.

And if you think the embarg is no joke, read the Helms-Burton Bill(that Clinton signed into law), which authorizes punishment to ANY FOREIGN country that does business with Cuba. They've had to search even harder (and pay even more) for firms willing to risk the US' wrath. Consider their staple diet rice, which they could get from the Port of New Orleans 150 miles away for next to nothing in transport costs vs. having to ship it in from Vietnam. Then multiply that times a million types of goods and services.

5:00 PM  

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