Friday, September 05, 2008

Hurricane Gustav: Help Cuba NOW

Dear Friends,

Hurricane Gustav has inflicted grievous damage on Cuba, including the
destruction of 100,000 homes and crops worth millions of dollars. It is
Cuba's worst hurricane in 50 years.

Like you, our hearts ache for the Cubans who are dealing with this
tragedy. We are writing this special appeal now to ask you to join our
organizations and other Americans who want to help the Cuban people by
sending charitable aid for recovery from this terrible storm.

While Cuba was broadly battered by Hurricane Gustav, the Isle of Youth
and the province of Pinar Del Rio bore the brunt of the devastation. No
human lives were taken, but Cubans have lost their homes, food, schools,
and livelihoods. Pinar Del Rio, a region of stunning natural beauty,
has been wrecked by the storm's ferocious winds and rain. Gustav
delivered a cruel, devastating blow.

Other countries are doing their part. Russian planes have already
landed in Cuba providing its first significant assistance since the fall
of the Berlin Wall. A plane sent by the Spanish Government carrying 15
tons of supplies will land in the next day or two. Venezuela, China,
Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico have also offered aid. Now it is
time for our country to do its part.

Years of antagonism between United States and Cuba mean that traditional
offers of assistance, government to government, will neither be made nor
accepted. But there are steps that can be taken - right away - that
would help the people of Cuba at this moment of great need.

First, we have identified 6 organizations operating here in the U.S.
which can legally accept contributions from U.S. citizens that can, in
turn, send aid to Cuba. We strongly urge everyone who can donate money
to do so through any of these groups. We are asking that checks be
written to the organization( s) you choose and then mailed to one place
so that we can keep track of the money we have collectively raised and
report back to all of you. We will immediately send your checks on to
the organizations you have identified. Please write checks to one of the
organizations listed below and then mail checks to: Cuba Hurricane
Relief, P.O. Box 53106, Washington, DC 20009. (Note: you can also donate
online directly to any of these organizations, or through the Cuba
Central site here)

Second, please join us in asking U.S. policy makers to free
Cuban-Americans from restrictions that prevent them from providing aid
to their own suffering families on Cuba. Until this tragedy is
resolved, there should be no restrictions on their ability to send money
and relief packages, or to travel and offer a helping hand, to family
members in need. Cuban dissidents such as Martha Beatriz Roque and
Vladimiro Roca have asked President Bush to do this, and he should
respond positively to their pleas - and ours. You can reach your
Representative by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121.

This is both the hurricane season and the political season, but humanity
should trump politics, especially now. Please join us in providing
charitable assistance to the Cuban people and the opportunity for
Cuban-Americans to help their families. It is the right thing to do,
and the right time to do it.


Cuba Central and Center for Democracy in the Americas
Center for International Policy
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

1. Global Links

Global Links' program of medical aid to Cuba began in 1994 at the
request of The Pan American Health Organization/ World Health
Organization (PAHO/WHO). This program is a federally licensed
humanitarian aid program. Aid sent is received and distributed to health
institutions by the PAHO/WHO office in Havana and the Cuban Ministry of
Health. Global Links has received a list of requested products from PAHO
and is raising funds to purchase and send them to Cuba.

2. Operation USA

Since its inception in September 1998, CMAP has delivered major
shipments to pediatric hospitals and other health facilities. Supplies
are donated by private companies, hospitals and physicians and are sent
to Cuba under license from the U.S.-Departments of Commerce and
Treasury. Operation USA is accepting cash contributions to pay for
shipping medical supplies to Cuba.


MEDICC-Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba, is a non-profit
organization working to enhance cooperation among the US, Cuban and
global health communities aimed at better health outcomes. MEDICC
supports education and development of human resources in health
committed to equitable access and quality care, providing the Cuban
experience to inform global debate, practice, policies and cooperation
in health. MEDICC is seeking financial donations to replenish stocks of
key medical reference books lost at the badly damaged Isle of Youth
Medical School, where over 2,000 young Cubans study medicine and public

4. Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services has worked with Caritas Cubana, the Catholic
Church's relief agency, to provide emergency, humanitarian assistance to
the most vulnerable and needy people in Cuba since 1993. CRS delivers
medicine, medical supplies, food and clothing to Cuba for distribution
in hospitals, homes for the elderly, and to children with Down syndrome
and other vulnerable groups. CRS is working with Caritas Cubana in the
affected areas in infrastructure projects and assistance with access to
food, hygiene products and water.

5. Jewish Solidarity

Since 1993, Jewish Solidarity has delivered over 35 tons of medicine,
food and other supplies to Cuba's more than 1500 Jews in Havana and
throughout this island nation. They have a humanitarian license that
allows them to collect financial donations to then buy the necessary
items that are most needed in Cuba. Jewish Solidarity is accepting
financial donations to buy medicine, food and other supplies to be
distributed in Cuba.

6. Daughters of Charity

The Daughters of Charity, a non-profit organization based in Miami,
Florida, that has been sending humanitarian goods to Cuba since 1994.
You can send a check donation so they can buy needed food items and pay
the cost of the containers they will be sending to Cuba.

All donations are tax deductible. Please include your name, address and
phone number on any mailed donations in order to receive a donation
confirmation letter.

Please mail checks to: Cuba Hurricane Relief, P.O. Box 53106,
Washington, DC 20009.