Dé Máirt, Feabhra 23, 2010

Imperialists Prevent Aid to Haiti

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti one month ago, as US president Barack Obama announced he was to send a 5,000 strong military force into the country, its Caribbean neighbour Cuba was mobilising the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade.

The Brigade is made up of graduates of the Latin American School of Medicine, as well as current fifth and sixth year students, and over 250 members are currently in Haiti, working with over 400 Cuba doctors who have been giving medical attention to the people of Haiti for over a decade.

This Cuban experience and expertise meant that for many people around the world who wanted to do something in response to the earthquake, it was only natural that supporting the Cuban initiative was a guaranteed way to ensure that aid would get where it needed to go.

In Ireland, the Cuba Support Group set up a PayPal account through which members of the public could make donations to the Medical Brigade. On January 27, however, a message was received from PayPal stating that the account could not continue:

“International customers must comply with the rules and regulations as promulgated by OFAC [US Office of Foreign Assets Control] as PayPal would be in violation, under the Trading with the Enemy Act, if we facilitated transactions where funds benefit Cuba.”

And so a clear signal has been sent that the US blockade of Cuba is being used to prevent desperately needed humanitarian aid from reaching earthquake survivors in Haiti.

The craven nature of the US government’s attitude is only magnified when compared to the actions of Cuba. The Henry Reeve Brigade was originally established in response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, and Cuba was the first country to offer medical aid in the aftermath of that tragedy.

Similarly, Cuba has also waived prohibitions on flights entering its airspace, in the name of ensuring that all humanitarian planes on their way to Haiti can reach their destination as quickly as possible.

Once again, the Cuban people have stood out as a shining example of internationalist solidarity. Anyone wishing to support their efforts in Haiti (and circumvent the US blockade) can make a donation to the Cuba Support Group’s Cuba Aid account.

Cuba Aid account
Bank of Ireland
177 Drimnagh Road
Dublin 12
Account No: 43208098
Sort Code: 90-02-87

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