When the earth quakes

Imagen tomada de: http://mashable.com/

An island that has seen a host of tragedies, invasions, dictators, today shows the wreckage of a disaster, a quake no less horrendous for being natural. In that Haiti shown to us by Carpentier in “The Kingdom of This World,” that the news has made us pity, misery has become chronic and crying an everyday language. More than a quake, the homeland of Jacques Roumain has been shaken by misfortunes that come and fall on the social instability, economic malaise and despair. For any nation, something like this would be a calamity, for Haiti it is a complete apocalypse.

This is not the time to play politics with the pain, nor to step in front of the microphones promising help, but rather to come to their aid unconditionally, without desire for recognition or gratitude. It especially frightens me that three months from now the suffering will no longer be a headline in any newspaper and people will have ceased to feel the urgency of the Haitian drama. I am afraid that we become accustomed to the misery and harden our hearts to the tragedy, focusing on our own problems without considering that others, next door, are screaming.

The seismograph may indicate that here are no new shocks, but the needle on the meter of life is reading red. It is the time for help, and we must do so immediately.

  • Currently several bloggers, along with others from Cuban civil society, are seeking a way to make our small contribution to the victims. We propose to collect clothes, medicines and personal care supplies, and bring them to the representative of Caritas in Havana.
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32 thoughts on “When the earth quakes

  1. Pingback: uberVU - social comments

  2. Haiti has been very grateful for all the help they have recieved. The US has sent all kinds of help and vehicles needed to get that country back on its feet. The truth about Cuba is now more readily available than ever before thanks to internet technology. The BS stories are almost gone.Yankie invasions, combate, sounds like Hugo Chavez all over again. Cuban Militant Ramiro Valdes is now a Venezuelen official.

  3. Though Cuba itself has more than a few problems the island has contributed constructively to saving the lives of many people in Haiti today. Cuba sends what Haiti needs most: doctors, not soldiers.

    Even some of the island’s fiercest critics have the island’s contribution:

    Voice of America: Cuba Aids Haiti Relief
    http://www.voanews.com/uspolicy/2010-01-21-voa1.cfm

    Cuban Doctors save Lives in Haiti:

    http://www.miamiherald.com/haiti/help-and-healing/story/1441144.html

    Video:
    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2010/01/18/darlington.haiti.cuban.relief.cnn

  4. In August and September 2008 Hurricanes Gustav and Ike crossed Cuba, causing great damage throughout the island. The losses caused by the hurricanes were estimated at $10 billion dollars.

    Despite the magnitude of the disaster, Castro said he doesn’t accept any help offered by United States and the European Union to mitigate the damages caused by the hurricanes.

    The question all Cubans should be asking is, what reason could there be for not accepting all the things that are being offer from anyone willing to send them? Why must thousands suffer because of the politics of a few arrogant men that for decades have never had to manage without the basics needs that most of their countrymen have had to endure?

  5. This is a comment from a Miami local doctor after returning from Haiti:
    ———————————————————
    I just wanted to let you know I safely returned from Haiti tonight. The extent of devastation visited upon the people of Haiti is difficult to describe. I helped staff a makeshift hospital in two airport hangers caring for around 250 patients. The vast majority had major orthopedic injuries. Of the 48 hours I was there, I spent nearly all of my time simply doing what I could with the limited supplies we had. The first night I could do nothing but dress wounds, administer IV fluids, and give pain meds along with 2 other doctors and 2-3 nurses. We had an excellent trauma surgeon who did a good job of keeping on top of everything. UM Orthopedist David Pitcher arrived yesterday and was simply amazing. I spent most of the last 24 hours splinting and casting badly broken extremities under his direction. I sewed up a few lids and facial lacs, but fortunately dealt with few eye-related problems. It is a desperate time for that poor country and the desperation is going to reach a fever pitch in the coming weeks as sanitation and morale drop. I don’t fully comprehend how the situation can be remedied. My sincere hope for Haiti is that when the rebuilding occurs, it will be with the appropriate infrastructure to push the country to higher places. It will be a long and arduous process, but one I hope can move quickly with the international attention that has been garnered.

    Haiti needs money for supplies and housing. The injured need orthopedic and trauma surgeons with OR support (which is currently minimal–the first field ORs were to be opened today) and quality nursing (which is a severe deficiency currently). Security is going to be a major problem as a desperate group of people cling to the shards of their severely broken lives. An entire generation of orphans and disabled has been introduced into an already strained, deficient system. As I look at the last 48 hours, of which I only slept about 3, the extent of the task at hand appears beyond daunting. There were times of hopelessness as I watched people suffer and sometimes die. Possibly even more difficult to remove from my thoughts were the cries of the orphaned or displaced children who were often inconsolable at bedtime, their fairly resilient natures not enough to overcome the physical pain of the injuries for which they were hospitalized as well as the emotional upheaval of losing their parents. There were some fleetingly hopeful times. Last night, a 15 year old girl was miraculously removed from the rubble of what was her secondary school after 4 days without food or water. Her left arm was crudely amputated in order to allow her escape. After a rather spartan surgery on a folding table sitting outside the hanger, her bleeding was addressed and her fluids replenished. When I left today, she was awake and talking, although very uncomfortable. She still might not survive. Her arm is still in horrible shape and she was found to have a heinous laceration of her lower back that might be infected–yet she was alive and talking. It was to be but a brief respite from the reality of the situation. As I smiled and felt proud of my part in her recovery, she began to ask me about her friends with whom she attended school. Sadly, I knew from the rescue team that she was likely the only survivor, and from the emotionless way in which she recited their names, she almost certainly knew as well. In Haiti today, even the hopeful moments are tinged with a stinging, painful reality.

    You are welcome to circulate this report to the faculty and staff if you see fit to do so. I wish I could make it more hopeful, but the current reality is bleak. The outpouring of aid and volunteers is heartwarming and will eventually give way to a new, improved Haiti. If anyone would like to do something to help the situation, give money to a trusted charitable organization such as the American Red Cross or the UN’s World Food Program.

    Everyone’s thoughts and well wishes for my trip were greatly appreciated. Tom Shane and Tom Johnson should now be there to continue the work. Please remember them in your thoughts. It will be a trying time, no doubt.

    James

  6. Oh and apparently Cuban and Cuban trained doctors are being sent from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

  7. Don’t be ridiculous. Cuba will send doctors and other professionals as needed. Right now Doctors Without Borders can’t even land their plane in the airport because the whole situation is completely out of control and unstable. So are you saying that 400 dedicated personnel is not enough ? How do you expect them to send more people if the planes with humanitarian aid (actual medicine) can’t even get through. An extra 100 doctors is useless if they don’t have supplies. Chill out on the politics for a second…everyone is doing what they can.

  8. HAD THE GREAT PLEASURE TO MEET THE FOUNDER OF “Operation Peter Pan Group” ELLY CHOVEL WHO DIED PREMATURELY A FEW YEARS AGO, SHE WOULD BE PROUD OF THIS!

    ENGLAND’S THE GUARDIAN: Haitian orphans could be airlifted to Miami for resettlement

    Richard Luscombe in Miami
    guardian.co.uk, Sunday 17 January 2010 19.39 GMT

    “Thousands of orphans and other Haitian children displaced by the earthquake may be airlifted to Florida in a humanitarian project that has roots in a similar mass exodus from Cuba half a century ago. Operation Pierre Pan would be a near repeat of Operación Pedro Pan, which saw 14,048 unaccompanied Cuban children start new lives in the US in the early 1960s.

    Just like that two-year programme, which was designed to remove children from the control of Fidel Castro’s government, the new arrivals would live in temporary shelters in south Florida until foster homes are found, or they are reunited with family members.”

    “Many of the original Pedro Pan children are among the volunteers offering their support, and in many cases their homes, to the young victims of the disaster.

    “It’s a way that we can give back,” said Eloisa Echazabal, who was 13 when she and her younger sister were sent to Florida by their parents in 1961, before they moved on to an orphanage in New York.

    “Their stories are different, but in other ways these children are just like us a long time ago. We know how bewildering it is for a child to arrive alone in an unfamiliar country, not knowing the language or where they will spend the night. But we also know the kindness of strangers gets you through, and we can be those strangers to these children who are suffering.””

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/17/haitian-orphans-airlifted-miami-resettlement

  9. John Bib, I didnt though about you were talking about in ur coment, that everybody is sending money to haiti, goverments, private people, some send 1, 5 or other send $100.000, and other $100.000,00, but how much money the Castros Brothers donate to Haiti?

  10. We need to help the people of Cuba too, or every people forget what happened n Cuba some months ago with huracans, those Cuban people at this moment doesnt have houses, food, electrisity , etc, we need to help the Cuban people too, it doesnt motter if castros brothers want it or not.

    Nesesitamos ayudar al pueblo Cubano tambien, o ya se olvidaron lo que paso con los huracanes ase unos meses atras, los cubanos no tienen comida, electrisidad, casa, comida, etc, no importa si los hermanos Castros quieran o no

  11. Marty, u r right, but u know why the Castros borthers do not sent teachers, doctos, nurses, PE coach, or sent cuban to Haiti to build school, houses, street, etc, etc, because the haiti goverment is not going to pay to them, that is all, they only want money, money for them no for Cuban people, all dollars they get will go to they personal account in Suiza, no in the cuban Bank, that is why people dont have houses, food, transportation, electrisity, etc, because all money they got, all money they save for them in their family, if they could use all money they have save in their bank in use them in Cuba, then, all Cuba problem and Cuban people problem is going to disapear.

  12. Haiti will not be like Katrina. The rest of the world is not sitting idle. There is hardly a soul in my country that is not pitching in to help and it makes me proud. This might be a deciding opportunity for the Government of Cuba to show the world it can put politics aside and join hands in helping one of its closest neighbours. The Cuba infrastructure that is already in place in Haiti, needs more Doctors. There are many more doctors in Cuba, (some who work in resorts rather than medicine), who I am sure would gladly jump on the next plane and help in the recovery efforts. Perhaps the Cuban Government can cooperate with the Canadian tourist industry and divert Cuban doctors to Haiti on those planes that unload tourists to Cuban beaches. I would bet that those tourists would not mind being delayed re-boarding after those planes have made the quick diversion to Haiti to send doctors and bring the tired ones home again.
    There are no shortage of ideas and opportunities when people have the willingness and freedom to choose.

  13. Last part instead of

    Cuba granted the request without any limitations.

    It should be translated as

    Cuba granted the request without delays

    Macheteamor, Yes there is some redeeming actions that the Cuban regime has done specially when things like this happen. On the other hand it was very sad they did not wanted to take our help when the hurricanes. I know the people of Cuba will have taken any help. It was not the regime’s place to be oppose to such help.

  14. Yoani mentioned not playing politics, so at least acknowledge that there were 350 Cuban medical personnel in Haiti before the quake and about 400 there now. They set up 2 medical stations and re-opened part of the national hospital within hours of the earthquake hitting. That was in addition to the work of scores of other medical professionals from Doctors Without Borders and other internationals.

  15. we need to help the people of Haiti, I sent already what I could, you could help too if you can, here is one option

    http://www.plantingpeace.org/

    I have been donating for over a year to this organization and I am in touch with them often, I know they are doing the best they can now in Haiti..

  16. I totally agree with Yoani..we have hardened our heart towards the tragedies of others, forgetting anything ever happened in a months time even.Here bomb’s go off & on, quakes come & go,& people continue to suffer,with only a minute of their suffering’s aired on news channels for just the odd one day.People have gotten use to it all,not caring,not wanting to unite,not wanting to stop this.
    What kind of a life are our youth,& older generation,aiming for?They might not care now,but God forbid if something like this happens to them,then they’ll be wishing they did other wise

  17. According to the Cuban communist newspaper Juventud Rebelde, in its edition of January 15, 2010, reported that a total of 26 patients have died due to the cold weather.

    In reality, thousands of Cubans have died of mysterious causes while they were being “cared for” by the dictatorship.

    It isn’t a surprise that this “unprecedented” tragic event has a profound effect on the Cuban regime, who offers an absurd explanation for the tragedy. A spokesman for the government said, “It was not unusual for people to die in hospitals and it was more likely the patients died of other causes.”

    Sure, it is not unusual for people to die in hospitals. As a matter of fact, it is not unusual for people to just die. In fact, the Cuban regime has made certain that tens of thousands of Cubans have experienced the reality of death.

  18. The point of all of this, as I see it, is that we are talking. That’s a good thing. Let’s keep talking. And let’s help the people of Haiti.

  19. Julio,

    Thank you for your post on #10.

    I took the liberty of translating it for people who do not read Spanish. Please let us know if there are any errors in the translation.

    I am still not clear on the source of the story and who exactly was involved in the negotiations on both sides. If there was a previous agreement in place between Washington and Havana, that’s great, I would really like to know more about how flights were identified as being in the medical emergency category. Did they just have to radio the flight controllers in Cuba and say “Hey, this is a medical emergency, we are flying over.” I also would like to know who negotiatiated the extension of the agreement. How did this this happen and who was talking to whom?

    The Spanish text is followed by the the translation by paragraph…

    Una crisis de las dimensiones de la de Haití ha provocado que el régimen cubano accediera a abrir su espacio aéreo a los aviones de EE UU que estos días evacuan heridos desde Puerto Príncipe a la cercana base militar de Guantánamo (Cuba), y desde allí hasta Miami (Florida). Un portavoz de la Casa Blanca anunció ayer que el acuerdo acortará 90 minutos el tiempo de vuelo para viajes que normalmente se deben realizar rodeando Cuba.

    A crisis of the dimensions of the one in Haiti has caused the Cuban regime to yield and open up its airspace to airplanes from the United States that are evacuating injured people from Puerto Príncipe to Guantanamo Bay and then on to Miami. A spokesman for the White House announced that the agreement would cut 90 minutes from the normal flight time from Cuba.

    Desde que la tierra se tragase, aplastase o malhiriera a decenas de miles de personas en Haití el pasado martes, efectivos de la Armada estadounidense han estado desplazándose vía aérea desde Guantánamo a la parte occidental de La Española para evacuar a supervivientes heridos.

    Ever since the world swallowed, crushed or injured tens of thousands of people in Haiti last Tuesday, first responders from the United States have deployed from Guantanamo to the western part of Hispañola to evacuate the survivors.

    Pero una vez de vuelta en Guantánamo, algunas de las víctimas han debido ser enviadas a hospitales de Miami para ser atendidas con mayores medios, lo que suponía tener que circunvalar el restringido espacio aéreo cubano para poder llegar hasta Florida. Entre Washington y La Habana ya existía un acuerdo previo que permitía usar el espacio aéreo cubano para vuelos médicos de emergencia, pero la situación en Haití ha forzado que la Administración Obama solicitase al régimen castrista la extensión de ese permiso de forma permanente. Cuba ha aceptado sin dilación.”

    But once they are back in Guantanamo, some of the victims have had to go on to hospitals in Miami to be treated for more serious injuries, which one would have supposed would have required a flight that avoided Cuban airspace to arrive in Florida. Between Washington and Havana there was a previous agreement which allowed the use of Cuban airspace for medical emergencies, but the Haitian situation forced the Obama administration to request of the Castro regime to extend this permission permanently. Cuba granted the request without any limitations.

  20. http://www.elpais.com/articulo/internacional/Obama/vuelca/Haiti/elpepuint/20100116elpepiint_5/Tes

    At the bottom of the article

    “Una crisis de las dimensiones de la de Haití ha provocado que el régimen cubano accediera a abrir su espacio aéreo a los aviones de EE UU que estos días evacuan heridos desde Puerto Príncipe a la cercana base militar de Guantánamo (Cuba), y desde allí hasta Miami (Florida). Un portavoz de la Casa Blanca anunció ayer que el acuerdo acortará 90 minutos el tiempo de vuelo para viajes que normalmente se deben realizar rodeando Cuba.

    Desde que la tierra se tragase, aplastase o malhiriera a decenas de miles de personas en Haití el pasado martes, efectivos de la Armada estadounidense han estado desplazándose vía aérea desde Guantánamo a la parte occidental de La Española para evacuar a supervivientes heridos. Pero una vez de vuelta en Guantánamo, algunas de las víctimas han debido ser enviadas a hospitales de Miami para ser atendidas con mayores medios, lo que suponía tener que circunvalar el restringido espacio aéreo cubano para poder llegar hasta Florida. Entre Washington y La Habana ya existía un acuerdo previo que permitía usar el espacio aéreo cubano para vuelos médicos de emergencia, pero la situación en Haití ha forzado que la Administración Obama solicitase al régimen castrista la extensión de ese permiso de forma permanente. Cuba ha aceptado sin dilación.”

  21. Julio,

    That is very interesting. I would like to know more about this agreement. I had not heard about that before. Thanks.

  22. Hank I read somewhere they had that agreement previously with the Cuban government. So when they have a medical emergency at Guantanamo bay base they will ask for permission and fly directly. With the Haiti disaster they asked. I will assume high level officials of both sides to do so and the Cuban authorities allowed the fly over.
    Also I think Fidel mentioned in Granma that they have doctors in Haiti and will be sending more.
    It looks like the Obama administration is doing a very good job in getting help to the Haitians.

  23. ***
    The U.S.A. Military is sending food, medicine, medical workers, security personnel, and construction machinery to help. And many Americans are sending money to help. I sent $100, and actors Angelina Joli and her husband Brad Pitt sent $1,000,000 of their money!
    ***
    How much have the Castro brothers sent? And the average Cuban can not help much since they live in poverty. I send $25 every month to Food for the Poor Christian charity to help buy food for poor Haitians–they live in a corrupt hell.
    ***
    It’s a good thing that the earthquake didn’t hit Cuba–you have too many problems already. Haiti is not far from Cuba.
    ***
    Los fuerzas militares del U.S.A. estan mandando comida, medicinas, trabajadores medicales, policias militares, y maquinas de construccion para ayudar. Y muchos Americanos estan mandando dinero para ayudar. Mande $100 extra, y los artistas Angelina Joli y su esposo Brad Pitt mandaban $1,000,000 de su dinero!
    ***
    Cuanto mandaban los hermanos Castro? Y la mayoria de la Gente Cubano no puedan ayudar mucho como viven en pobreza. Mando $25. cada mes a Comida por los Pobres caridad Christiana para ayudar comprar comida por los pobles Haitianas–viven en un infierno corrupto.
    ***
    Que bueno que el terramoto no destruyo a Cuba–ya tienen demasiados problems. Haiti no es lejos de Cuba.
    ***
    John Bibb
    ***

  24. John Two,

    Yes, just like what happened to New Orleans after Katrina.

    I like the fact that Cuba has allowed the US to enter its airspace — this shows that the two governments know how to talk to each other when they want to and are able to act quickly if necessary. I hope we continue talking to each other.

    I wonder how long the overflights will be allowed. I also wonder how the agreement was reached. Was it negotiated between lower level officials, or did Barack get on the phone with Raul? Is it in writing? If so, I would like to see it.

  25. I think some of the criticism about the slowness of the world’s response to the earthquake in Haiti (not by Yoani but elsewhere in the media) is misplaced. With the damage to the airport and a destroyed harbour, the destruction of most government buildings, including the Presidential Palace, the UN headquarters, I think the world has responded reasonably well.

    Like Yoani, the greater concern is whether the world’s attention and commitment can be maintained after the earthquake drops from the headlines of the world media.

  26. Yes, I’m concerned about the withdrawal of media attention in the not so distant future too. But it’s great that there seems to be such an outpouring from the world right now.

    Apocalypse, often overused, seems like an appropriate word here.

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