Seven Proposals After Hurricane Sandy

Photo from UNPACU

Photo from UNPACU

Thursday morning will never be forgotten by thousands of people in Eastern Cuba. The wind, flying roofs, heavy rains and trees falling on streets and houses, will remain as permanent memories of Hurricane Sandy. Nor will they be able to get out of their heads that first night after the disaster in which, from their battered beds or rickety sofas, they found nothing separating their faces from the starry night sky.

Some people lost everything, which was not much. People from whom the gale took the modest possessions they’d accumulated over their whole lives. A human drama extended over this area already affected beforehand by material shortages, constant migration westward, and the outbreaks of diseases like dengue fever and cholera. For the victims it rains and it pours, literally and metaphorically. Nature intensifies the economic collapse and social problems of this region of the country. So these are the times to redouble our solidarity, to roll up our sleeves and help them rebuild their homes, to divide the piece of bread, and to go all out to contribute to those unlucky Cubans that Sandy left behind.

I think we all know what we can give and do, but I still dare to venture some proposals directed at the Cuban authorities. The decisions they make in the coming days will be crucial to shortening and mitigating the tragedy. I hope they put aside ideological differences and open their ears to the public that wants to contribute to the recovery of our country. Solidarity should not be an institutional monopoly, it never has been, and from this conviction arise proposals to make it more effective, such as the following:

  • Eliminate the custom duties for entry into the country of food, medicines, appliances and building materials.
  • Ensure that the public is organized to collect, transport and deliver clothes, medicines and other resources to the affected areas.
  • Encourage and authorize the collection of funds and resources from Cuban immigrants to bring to the island, both on a personal level as well as a group or institutional level.
  • Ask for an assessment by and cooperation from international organizations that provide aid, loans and advice to overcome this disaster.
  • In the worst hit provinces make the procedures more flexible for obtaining construction permits, and also for the delivery of land in usufruct.
  • Enact a moratorium on the collection of taxes from the self-employed in the regions where Sandy destroyed important parts of the economic and agricultural infrastructure.
  • Renounce the institutional monopoly on the distribution of support, encouraging and respecting the existence of citizen channels to distribute aid.
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222 thoughts on “Seven Proposals After Hurricane Sandy

  1. BUT DEAR T.M. THE LINK ON YOUR COMMENTS #225 & #226 HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO NUMBERS/STATISTICS TO BACK UP YOUR COMMENTS REGARDING THE BAD OLD “EMBARGO”! DO I HAVE TO REQUEST THIS INFORMATION A THIRD OR FOURTH TIME?? AND FOR #234 YOU KEEP PARROTING THE SAME AS THE PREVIOUS TWO! I UNDERSTAND THAT THE “EMBARGO HURTS THE CUBAN PEOPLE” ANALYSIS DOES NOT EXIST, BU JUST SAY SO DEAR! WE WONT HOLD IT AGAINST YOU!

  2. Fool, do your homework before you put your foot in your mouth, yet again. Most poll workers work 15-16 hours on the day of the election. But I suppose that would be overly strenuous for the “work

    What are the hours required to work on Election Day?

    Election Day is at least a 14 hour work day beginning at 6:00 a.m. Upon arrival at 6:00 a.m. poll workers begin setting up the polling area and at 7:00 a.m. the polls are officially open. Voting hours are from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. with any voter in line at 7:00 p.m. having the opportunity to vote. After the last voter has cast their ballot, poll workers begin dismantling the polling area and usually are ready to leave between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m.

    http://www.leonvotes.org/index.asp?page=poll%20workers/faq.htm#What Are the Hours

  3. Humberto … you say potato – I say potato:
    If you work so hard for the democratic process you should also work to repudiate the ACT that states clearly an embarbo is on… that was and is my hot potato!

    So repudiate the ACT! cos the stats are not what counts in a court of law!

    ..and what a show off you are.. 15-hrs shifts… no one does that mate unless they work for themselves or live in the great USA and the boss got them by their migrant balls… so that is fib… you probably did 6 hours at the polling station for a pizza, a chat and you hoped for a shag too so you hung around cos the boy you likeS was doing the next shift!

  4. T.M.!! I’M BACK FROM A LONG 15 HOUR DAY WORKING THE POLLS BUT GLAD TO BE PART OF THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS! BUT DEAR T.M. THE LINK ON YOUR COMMENTS #225 & #226 HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO NUMBERS/STATISTICS TO BACK UP YOUR COMMENTS REGARDING THE BAD OLD “EMBARGO”! DO I HAVE TO REQUEST THIS INFORMATION A THIRD OR FOURTH TIME??

  5. T.M.!! IM WORKING THE POLLS IN CALIFORNIA DEAR! WE START @ 6:00AM!! GLAD YOU ARE TRYING TO DEFAME AND PLANT DOUBT ABOUT ME WITH THE DOLLAR$$$$ SIGN OF DESPERATION!

  6. _man comes around_

    Let Castro do just 1 (ONE) good thing for the Cuban people. In 53 years, you’d think he could do 1 good thing, but we’re still waiting.

    Here’s a few suggestions:

    Allow independent charities into Cuba to help the hungry and homeless.

    Allow an independent trade union.

    Allow a Cuban to vote (at any level, even for mayor of their town)

    Allow a Cuban to criticize his society.

    Allow independent inspection of something in Cuba.
    Here’s a good starting list: environment pollution, the prison system, the medical system, illiteracy, police corruption and child prostitution, homelessness and hunger, hurricane casualties.

    When Granma reports one thing that is true, even if it is hurricane casualties, I will throw you a party. But don’t hold your breath.

  7. _man comes around_

    I do not believe sanctions work on either Castro or his serfs.

    Like I said, it is having no effect on Cuba. It only affects US business.

    Doing more business with Cuba will mean our business will pressure our government to completely abandon the Cuban people.

    We have already betrayed the Cuban people too often, like how we ship the Cuban boat people back to Castro. That alone should be enough for any fool to realize how much Castro controls US politics.

    If we completely abandon the Cuban people, it will be another victory for moral bankruptcy.

    As bad as our country is, it leads the struggle for human rights in the world and we should try to keep it that way.

    If you think the world will be better if we become another Russia or China and completely turn a blind eye to all the evils in the world, you are sadly mistaken.

  8. Help… as proven with a number of more terrible dictatorships, sanctions do not work on the dictator i.e. they work on the people. Your idea being that if people are unhappy eventually this would explode into something… As seen the explosion occurrs and it either creates a ‘pseudo-democracy’ where capitalistic opportunism works its great wonders, meaning, former appartchicks and oppressors become great champions of capitalism overnight by selling state owned property mostly. Or, the state and dictator is called to suppress any ‘democratic sparks’…. that might ignite a fire. Well you had the sparks but never the fire.. so it is unlikely the fire will happen as long as

    So why not change the policy of embargo, at least it would shock everyone – laterla thinking might create something new… The only think Castro counts on is that the US is predictable in its approach as apple pie in taste!… and he knows he can count on the embargo.

    The ebmargo as it results from the point of origin is connected with the ‘nationalisation of US interests in Cuba’ so this is about restitution ultimately. You repudiate the act you give up on restitution! ..Which actually you should, ask Griffin to tell you the stats… how much Cuba was feeding the US vistiery under Batista… I suppose it is called business but it is also called sucking the blood of a nation dry!

    Sadly Castro may have achieved almost the same result, yet I think at least the pride of Cubans is intact and they should hang on to that as little as it may looks it something paid in gold! Not only MsY still has her pride intact as one can see.. but also people more relevant such as the guy who took the pope head on and the Ladies in White!…

    So yeah repudiate the act you may get a surprise when Cubans in Cuba will start really believing (based on facts) that you guys love them for real and want them for real! Love is a hard but we all think it is simple until money comes into it!

  9. _man comes around_

    There is nothing to repudiate, obviously. The embargo has no effect on the Cuban economy, obviously.

    Obviously, doing business with a fascist dictatorship is a bad thing. It corrupts our values and makes our government turn a blind eye to evil.

    We do too much business with other fascist tyrannies like China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.

    Why should we add one more puny fascist tyrant to the list of our best friends?

    Unfortunately, we already appease Castro too much.

    Contrary to Castro propaganda, our presidents have done whatever Castro has demanded, from returning Cuban boat people to Castro, to loosening every part of the embargo Castro asked to be loosened so he can import US goods.

  10. And this bit explains it what you are up to…

    Titled the Cuban Democracy Act, the embargo was codified into law in 1992 with the stated purpose of maintaining sanctions on Cuba so long as the Cuban government continues to refuse to move toward “democratization and greater respect for human rights.”[2] In 1996, Congress passed the Helms-Burton Act, which further restricted United States citizens from doing business in or with Cuba, and mandated restrictions on giving public or private assistance to any successor government in Havana unless and until certain claims against the Cuban government are met. In 1999, U.S. President Bill Clinton expanded the trade embargo even further by ending the practice of foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies trading with Cuba. In 2000, Clinton authorized the sale of certain “humanitarian” US products to Cuba.

  11. Humberto –> two clicks away:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_Democracy_Act

    It is called the Cuban Democracy Act (one of those names you guys seem to like… a lot)
    Ask you congressman about it!!! do it now!! you can do it online… tell them to repudiate it if you really have the salt!

    You are early baby today!.. what happened, you gave up your daytime job or is it election day? Can we have please a comparison of the two identical twins from different mothers that make the US presidential race?? Now which one of them would repudiate the embargo I wonder cos none has!!!… Suppose both would if only the other would blink in that direction first.

    So why don’t you want it repudiated?? can you tell us??

  12. Humberto –> two clicks away… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_Democracy_Act

    It is called the Cuban Democracy Act (one of those names you guys seem to like… a lot)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban_Democracy_Act

    Ask you congressman about it!!! do it now!! you can do it online… tell the to repudiate it if you really have the salt!

    You are early baby today!.. what happened, you gave up your daytime job or is it election day? Can we have please a comparison of the two identical twins from different mothers that make the US presidential race?? Now which one of them would repudiate the embargo I wonder… cos none has!!!… Suppose both would if only the other would blink, wink or spit before people vote for them…

    The more I read about IT the more I realise you guys are paid to ‘enforce it’ voluntarily!

  13. The Cuban Government and Multi-Million Dollar Medicare Fraud in South Florida – Vanessa Lopez* – January 20, 2011

    The dilapidated state of the Cuban economy has left the Cuban government scrambling for ways to obtain hard currency. Cuba has contrived ways to benefit from leasing doctors, nurses, teachers, and security agents abroad; more recently, Cuba has also found ways to capitalize on large-scale Medicare fraud, possibly committing economic warfare on the United States.

    Given that “at least half of South Florida’s Medicare fugitives are believed to be [hiding] in Cuba,” it is probable that the region’s Cuban-connections can be playing a significant role in the region’s disproportionately high propensity to commit Medicare fraud. (4) There are various possible reasons for this:

    New Cubans arriving to South Florida have become accustomed to lawlessness – a condition of living under a totalitarian regime whereby one needs to regularly resort to illegal acts as a means of survival. This adaptation purportedly predisposes them to embrace opportunities for Medicare fraud. Many troubling questions can be raised against this hypothesis: Why is this phenomenon mostly associated with Medicare and not other crimes? Why is it that the criminals behind this fraud are not only recently arrived Cubans, but also those who have been in South Florida for decades? Since this is the case, blaming this crime on recently-arrived Cubans may be factually inaccurate and discriminatory.

    South Florida’s closeness to Cuba, both geographic and cultural, provides for an easy escape to Cuba – a state with no extradition treaty with the United States.

    The Cuban Government is orchestrating and assisting some of these instances of Medicare fraud. (5)

    In a discussion with a high-level former intelligence official with the Cuban Government, it became clear that the latter two reasons can help account for South Florida’s high volume of Medicare fraud cases. (6) In said discussion, the official, who asked to remain unnamed, states that there are indeed strong indications that the Cuban Government is directing some of these Medicare frauds as part of a desperate attempt to obtain hard currency. The source notes that the Cuban Government is also assisting (while not directing) other instances of Medicare fraud – providing perpetrators with information with which to commit fraud.

    http://ctp.iccas.miami.edu/FOCUS_Web/Issue137.htm

  14. TRINIDAD GUARDIAN: Cuba on FATF money laundering blacklist

    Cuba, which is at the centre of a money laundering case in which Republic Bank has been named, is on a list of 15 countries that have been identified as not being sufficiently compliant with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the inter-governmental agency that develops provides international policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

    The list is hosted on the Web site of T&T’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which is required to publish the list of countries by virtue of Section 17(1)(a) of the Financial Intelligence Unit Act of T&T. The public notice is dated February 23, 2012—seven days after it was issued by the FATF—and is signed by the FIU’s director, Susan Francois.

    There is a double asterix next to Cuba’s name on the list which draws attention to the fact that the Communist country “has not engaged with the FATF in the process.” There is also a note below the list in which the FATF “calls on its members to consider the risks arising from the deficiencies associated” with each of the 15 countries deemed to be non compliant.

    Anti-money laundering guidelines issued by the Central Bank in October 2011 require local financial institutions to ensure that, at a minimum, the guidelines are also implemented in their branches and subsidiaries abroad. “Where the local applicable laws and regulations prohibit the implementation of this Guideline, the Central Bank must be notified,” according to the document.

    Further, the Central Bank guidelines require that local financial institutions “pay attention to and report if suspicious,” business transactions “undertaken with persons and transactions with financial institutions in or from other countries which do not or insufficiently comply with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force,” such as Cuba.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.guardian.co.tt/business/2012-06-23/cuba-fatf-money-laundering-blacklist

  15. THE TIP OF THE CASTROFASCIST OLIGARCHY MAFIA ICEBERG WHEN IT COMES TO MONEY LAUNDERING!

    THE NEWS TRIBUNE: Feds: Florida money-laundering network moved Medicare millions to Cuba – A South Florida money-laundering network secretly transferred more than $30 million in illegal Medicare profits through a remittance firm with shell companies in not only Canada and Trinidad, but also in Mexico, according to court records filed Monday.- Jay Weaver; The Miami Herald
    MIAMI — A South Florida money-laundering network secretly transferred more than $30 million in illegal Medicare profits through a remittance firm with shell companies in not only Canada and Trinidad, but also in Mexico, according to court records filed Monday.

    Evidence of the widening network into Mexico surfaced in the federal plea agreement of a one-time Miami medical equipment provider who pleaded guilty Friday to his role in the money-laudering conspiracy.

    Kirian Vega, 35, who owned Ozain Pharmacy in another person’s name, billed more than $600,000 in false claims to the taxpayer-funded Medicare program and received about $400,000.

    According to the plea agreement, Vega admitted he used a Florida check-cashing store to launder $124,000 of the tainted proceeds in 2009 through the shell companies of the offshore remittance company, Caribbean Transfers.

    Court documents show that money was wired to Turismo dos Polos in Mexico, which transferred a portion — $45,000 — to another shell company, Communications Sophie, in Trinidad. That money was then sent to an unidentified travel agency in Cuba, records show.

    Last month, Caribbean Transfers was accused in an indictment of financing the complex money-laundering ring that moved millions in stolen Medicare money, mostly from South Florida, through shell companies in Canada and Trinidad and finally into Cuba’s banking system.

    That revelation came to light in the case of a now-convicted check-cashing store owner who was first believed to be at the center of the federal case. It marked the first time that investigators traced tainted Medicare proceeds to Cuba’s state-controlled bank.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/11/06/2357142/feds-florida-money-laundering.html

  16. T.M. #204& #213!! PUT OUT OR WE WILL ASSUME THAT YOU CANNOT FIND THAT DATA OR IT DOES NOT EXIST DEAR!! AND THAT TACTIC OF CHANGING THE SUBJECT!! BOOOOOOOOORING!!

  17. “We reluctantly split ” due to budget constraints, becomes, in the mind of Mouse Boy, “they reluctantly decided to share.”

    How dishonest of you.

  18. @211… Really loved the American ennui… ‘they reluctantly decided to share’ … man thank God for middle-class hypocrisy … this world has a future in the ones who eat and enjoy life free of cool politically-correct guilt!…

    As migrant I can only wonder even after 20 years what education system produces such moooorons on the assembly line… even communism didn’t manage to wipe our brains at this kind of level and am sure Cubans opperating under the radar prove that in bunches… Suppose working for the righteous NatGeo didn’t help they had to self-censor pleasure… Alternatively they should have said thank you to the guy who made it possible for them to eat a 1/4 of the price a delicatessen… but of course one thing Weterners cannot say to lesser nationals is an honest thank you… apparently we’re always too cheap or too corrupted.

    See Humberto that is the essence of nazism…Western style… and this is what Damir calls the ‘gulag’… it is a gulag of mentality based on hypocrisy and political correctness!!

  19. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER’S JOURNAL: “Cuba’s New Now” and the Oceans: Part II – by Clare Fieseler

    Whether in a coastal village or a colorful Castro-fied restaurant, I found plenty of seafood when traveling in Cuba. That’s easy for any tourist. The real challenge for me was matching my plate with my moral compass.

    Near the sleepy village of Playa Larga, there’s a government-run restaurant that targets tourists peering into one of Cuba’s blue holes. It peddles lobster almost as hard as Che Guevara t-shirts. The waiter really pushed the local surf-n-turf special on me: farm-raised alligator and lobster tail. My colleague and I were on research budgets; we reluctantly split it. We faked interest in a FIFA game, gobbled grub, and soaked in the lush, canopied setting between dives. We paid the check with raised eyebrows, realizing we had eaten for 1/4 the price elsewhere. About forty Canadians began bustling towards the shaded tables with a Cuban minder. These tourists were about to dine a stone’s throw from the turquoise sea, over looking an underwater cave, en route to visit the Caribbean’s largest wetland. They almost all ordered, you guessed it, the pricey lobster and alligator special. I couldn’t blame them; the food matched the ambiance. Isn’t this why they came to Cuba in the first place?

    It turns out that the lobster I was eating at the B&B was purchased on the black market. It had to have been. As my former grad school classmate Daylin Munoz-Nunez highlights in her masters research:

    In Cuba, 90% of the lobster is exported to the international market and the other 10% is sent to the government-controlled tourism sector (Puga & de León, 2003). Therefore, there is no lobster supplied to the local market. This creates a high internal demand for the lobster on the black market, despite private and recreational lobster fisheries [being] total prohibited.

    Meaning: the fishery that got lobster on my non-government-controlled tourism plate operates completely under the radar, completely unmanaged. Which is the last thing Cuban lobsters need. The fishery collapsed in 1990, with the government since scrambling to improve management with scant resources. What my plate took from the ocean went un-accounted and, if anything, contributed to the fishery’s consistently declining landings since 1990.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/11/05/cuba-cover-and-the-ocean-2/

  20. Cuba’s problems are not the result of the embargo; they are due to the corruption and ineffectiveness of a system that is against private property and free enterprise. These and no others are the real reasons of the problems. Lifting the embargo and travel ban, without meaningful changes in Cuba, will:

    a) Guarantee the continuation of the current totalitarian structures.

    b) Strengthen state enterprises, since money will flow into businesses owned by the Cuban government.

    c) Lead to greater repression and control since Castro and the leadership will fear that U.S. influence will subvert the revolution.

    d) Delay instead of accelerate a transition to democracy on the island

  21. Griffin, you’re right, the “embargo”, behind all the political talk about human rights, is a trade war that was started by Fidel and Che.

    They seized all US assets in Cuba and then used US retaliation for their propaganda business.

    They thought the future lay with Marxism and with Soviet support would never need the USA again.

    Now they take all our handouts, still refuse to do business with US companies they get a better deal elsewhere, and then accuse us of this “embargo” business. And people believe it!

    Cuba’s own propaganda machine is now bragging about 1500 companies from 62 countries at their trade fair.

    The reality is the “embargo” is having no effect on the Cuban economy and we no longer have the power to harm Cuba economically even if we wanted to.

    But US remittances are helping Cuba big time!

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