The quote “Hurricane deaths are rare in Cuba, where evacuations are well organised and begin early.” is a throw-away comment within the report (Observer 31/8/2008) about the progress of Hurricane Gustave, now rampaging across the Gulf of Mexico and threatening New Orleans three years after Katrina devastated large areas. Katrina was grade 3 while Gustave looks like grade 4 at the moment. It hit Cuba’s western edge destroying banana crops. This is also a tobacco growing area.
The mayor of New Orleans has advised the population to “move their butts” out of the area in anticipation of extensive damage where levee repairs and reinforcements remain incomplete.
This is just one example of why I find the experience of Cuba, a relatively poor country constantly threatened by the all-powerful neighbour, and withstanding an economic embargo, putting people’s well being above economic expediency (i.e. maximum profit). New Orleans was ill-prepared for Katrina and rescue operations were slow and ineffective. The poor took the brunt of losses. Cuban aid, such as an offer of doctors and medical supplies, was rejected by the boss George W.
Fidel Castro himself comments on how the world’s media focussed attention to negative stories about Cuba’s participation at the Olympic Games in Beijing. The least we can do is give this valiant country a fair hearing!