Venezuela and Cuba offer aid to Katrina victimsTwo countries that have been under constant attack from the U.S. Government, Cuba – which has faced numerous assassination attempts on its leaders, sabotage, a mercenary invasion, and a criminal economic blockade that has lasted over four decades; and Venezuela – who’s democratically elected president has had to deal with continuing criticism, a recall referendum, a short lived military coup, and assassination plots – have offered real, meaningful help to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Venezuela was the first country in the world to offer assistance. It’s CITGO Petroleum Corporation – a subsidy of the Venezuelan state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A.(PDVSA) – has pledged $1 million dollars towards relief efforts, while CITGO CEO Félix Rodríguez made a separate $25,000 donation to the Lake Charles, Louisiana chapter of the American Red Cross, and a group of volunteers from the CITGO Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex – known as Team CITGO – helped with local relief efforts.
Apart from the generous monetary donation, Venezuela has offered two mobile hospital units – each capable of assisting 150 people – 120 specialists in rescue operations, 10 water purifying
plants, 18 eight-hundred-fifty KW electricity generators, 20 tons of bottled water, 50 tons of canned food, and 66,000 barrels of heating oil.
Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramírez has indicated to U.S. officials that his country is prepared to offer additional assistance in the form of fuel supplies to help offset shortages.
Representatives of the Venezuelan Government, CITGO, and PDVSA have emphasized that these offers for support come directly from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and are backed by the people of Venezuela.
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry has issued a statement expressing solidarity with the people and government of the United States. “The Venezuelan government and nation express to the United States and its leaders their dismay regarding the magnitude and consequences of Hurricane Katrina,” read the statement.
“As a way of expressing its solidarity and sentiments of compassion towards the families of the victims that are facing the loss of their material goods, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reiterates the offer made by President Hugo Chavez, of sending fuel and humanitarian aid to the United States...” the statement continued.
The U.S. Government claims it is “unaware” of Venezuela’s offers, and has even went as far as saying that “unsolicited offers can be counterproductive.”
Cuba has made two offers to send 1,100 doctors and 26.4 metric tons of medicine to treat the hurricane victims. The first was made on Tuesday, August 30th, days before the extent of the catastrophic damage was even known.
“Cuba is ready to help immediately,” said president Fidel Castro in a radio and television address. “We offer concrete things, doctors to the site of the tragedy, which is exactly what is missing now.”
American officials have asked Cuban authorities not to publicize their offer of aid, fearing as usual the “threat” of a good example, and they have yet to respond to the offer.
The moral authority of the Cuban Revolution over the last forty-six years has not only been based on Cuba’s achievements in education and healthcare, but also in the solidarity it has shown with oppressed people all over the world.
When an earthquake struck Nicaragua in 1972 – leaving 10,000 dead and thousands more injured – Cuba immediately offered to send aid and doctors. This was despite the fact that Nicaragua was governed by the staunchly anti-communist dictator Somoza, who had allowed the U.S. to use his country as a launching pad for an invasion of Cuba only eleven years earlier!
Cuba was also among the first countries to send doctors and other aid when Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras and Nicaragua in 1998, even though the puppet governments of those two countries supported the U.S. government in its attack on Cuba in the U.N.’s Human Rights Commission.
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