Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Wreckage of Matthew: Cuba and Haiti

Trinidad, Cuba.

In a real rather than an ideological sense, the benefits and moral superiority of a truly socialist based society are experienced by that society’s members, and witnessed by anyone willing to see, during times of crisis.

On the evening of October 4 last, the Category 4 (on a scale with an upper limit of 5) Hurricane Mathew smashed into the easternmost tip of Cuba’s Guantanamo province.

When it departed the national territory some hours later, what it left in its wake was truly Hiroshimaesque.

Still photographs of the devastation could not convey the consequent harsh reality and human heartache Mathew left behind.

The broader view that came from the first footage filmed by tv journalists from a Revolutionary Armed Forces helicopter gave a better sense of the shocking and awesome destruction.

Nobody died in Cuba as a result of the violent storm.

As yet, the death toll in Haiti, where it had wreaked havoc before arriving in Cuba, has not yet been established.

It is safe to say that there are more than 500 dead, many thousands injured and hundreds of thousands left homeless and destitute to despairingly face the perils of cholera and other infectous diseases.

It is noteworthy that the first help and friendly faces thousands of these unfortunate comrades have already, or will encounter, will not represent their own government, the UN, or any agency from a European Union member state fat from — and responsible for –the horrific misery Haiti has been abandoned to for centuries past.

They have been helped, treated and healed by Cuban health professionals, many still unaware of how seriously their own families, friends and communities at home have fared.

This wonderful — and sadly necessary — courageous and life saving solidarity, a hallmark of the Cuban Revolution since its triumph in 1959, is truly a beautiful thing to behold.

Of course, you wont read about it Denis O Brien’s or any other capitalist news rag.

Non-profit solidarity is not something they are inclined to promote.

In something that is as grossly criminal and offensive as Corn Laws to protect profits and ships full of grain sailing from Irish ports as millions of our grandparents parents lay starving on Ireland’s roadsides, O Brien has taken thousands of millions of dollars out of Haiti over recent decades, almost all with the help of Mr. And Mrs. Clinton.

Poor poor Haiti…

O Brien’s “lifetime” contributions (a loophole to evade single donation transparency regulations) to Clinton fundraising efforts have surpassed 25 million dollars to date….Imagine what his total theft must amount to on the basis of this figure alone.

Less than one of every hundred dollars actually donated (rather than promised and then reneged on) for relief in Haiti following the earthquake there, reached a victim in need.

The other 99 were spent (stolen?) on rent, vehicles, salaries, services, entertainment, communications, consultations, security, staff, evaluations, studies and other such niceities, to ensure that the noble servants of the multi-million dollar and fundamentally fraudulent disaster and poverty industries could enjoy “decent” working conditions…..

A rich, comfortable, primarily white, well financed and only somewhat transitory oligarchy arose to compliment forces of occupation disguised as peacekeepers ….

In the US, where disaster prevention and relief is a great everyman for himself free for all, many lives were also lost and many more, as was the case with Katrina, have been abandoned to their fates.

From the moment a regional tropical front is noted on weather charts and a reasonable hypothesis about its potential trajectory can be established, Cuban meteorology services are on alert. Like in every other element of society here, a socialist ethos permeates all their reporting.

If the front becomes a Tropical Storm, very detailed and practical information is provided.

All relevant agencies are alerted to the potential threat.

If the trajectory seems likely to cross the national territory and the storm increases to Hurricane Force, harm prevention measures are implemented where required and preparations for evacuations and emergency situations are initiated.

Everything the evacuees might need, including health care for everyday ailments, food, information and communications are provided for those who will not stay with family or friends.

Once established that the weather event will affect Cuba, the operation commences.

Evacuations are massive (in the case of Mathew almost 400,000 people), orderly and calmly efficient affairs.

None of the fears of theft for leaving the little some own unattended, that cause countless deaths elsewhere, arise.

The President of the Republic, cabinet ministers with responsibility for all relevant departments and all other military, statutary and administrative authorities are on the ground in the area overseeing all operations.

Their very presence offers moral support, a sense of security and solidarity to the population. Many are still in the area as I write 10 days after the storm. Their oversight of recovery lends a seriousness and a serenity to this traumatic phase.

Before evacuations, recovery and response action plans have been activated, all necessary personnel, equipment, resources and services are moved as close to the soon to be affected zone as is safe, for deployment immediately after the danger has abated.

Cuba is a poor, Third World, criminally blockaded country with serious economic problems, often cynically criticized for a “poor” human rights record.

It nonetheless makes incredible and inspiring efforts and sacrifices to ensure that her most vulnerable citizens are guaranteed their most basic rights to life, shelter, comfort, sustenance, care and material support in the face of phenomen that overpower the abilities and feint will of her rich, powerful, critical, cynical and greedy neighbor to the North.

Everyone whose home has been damaged by the hurricane will have at least half the cost of repairs covered by the state and can easily avail of low interest credits to cover the other half. Others who need more or a different form of support will get it.

The first many of our brothers and sisters in Haiti knew about Mathew was when strong winds and rain prophesized an imminent mortal assault.

Preparation and prevention consisted of disheartened efforts to gather up and endeavors to protect whatever few miserable possessions one might have.

Shelter and evacuation were non existent and recovery comprises desperate and fatalistically resigned waiting in the vain hope that somebody might appear.

Dead are buried or not, food is scarce, rancid or non existent and diseases thrive in the wreckage of the recent storm and the ancient and ongoing criminal neo-colonial rape and abandonment.

Perhaps the most telling – and undoubtedly the saddest and most moving — of the differences between the experiences of Cuban and Haitian victims of Mathew are not material.

They can be deciphered from the faces of those interviewed by news networks about their experiences and circumstances.

Cuban victims, of course saddened and traumatized by their losses, all seem not only healthy and well, but also truly determined, dignified, strong, grateful, patriotic, robust and defiant in the knowledge that their Revolution will not abandon them and that not one life has been lost.

The contrasting hopelessness, despair, unwellness, shock, confusion, fear, hunger, thirst, the tragic tragic desolation and death in the eyes, voices and hearts of their Haitian counterparts, should evoke compassion, outrage and fury in every right minded human being.

In a world of plenty, nobody should be so condemned to misery by modern day corsairs of capitalism.

I am not slow to criticize the many flaws, failings and frustrations of everyday life in Cuba.

But there are moments and events that put such trivialities into context and reassure those of us who have been chanting for years

That a Better World is Possible.

Sean Joseph Clancy writes for the Irish monthly Socialist Voice, where this article originally appeared. He lives in Trinidad, Cuba.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
Brian Saady
How the “Cocaine Mitch” Saga Deflected the Spotlight on Corruption
David Swanson
Tim Kaine’s War Scam Hits a Speed Bump
Norah Vawter
Pipeline Outrage is a Human Issue, Not a Political Issue
Mel Gurtov
Who’s to Blame If the US-North Korea Summit Isn’t Held?
Patrick Bobilin
When Outrage is Capital
Jessicah Pierre
The Moral Revolution America Needs
Binoy Kampmark
Big Dead Place: Remembering Antarctica
John Carroll Md
What Does It Mean to be a Physician Advocate in Haiti?
George Ochenski
Saving Sage Grouse: Another Collaborative Failure
Sam Husseini
To the US Government, Israel is, Again, Totally Off The Hook
Brian Wakamo
Sick of Shady Banks? Get a Loan from the Post Office!
Colin Todhunter
Dangerous Liaison: Industrial Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again
George Capaccio
Bloody Monday, Every Day of the Week
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Swing Status, Be Gone
Samantha Krop
Questioning Our Declaration on Human Rights
Morna McDermott
Classrooms, Not Computers: Stop Educating for Profit
Patrick Walker
Today’s Poor People’s Campaign: Too Important Not to Criticize
Julia Stein
Wrestling With Zionism
Clark T. Scott
The Exceptional President
Barry Barnett
The Family of Nations Needs to Stand Up to the US  
Robert Koehler
Two Prongs of a Pitchfork
Bruce Raynor
In an Age of Fake News, Journalists Should be Activists for Truth
Max Parry
The U.S. Won’t Say ‘Genocide’ But Cares About Armenian Democracy?
William Gudal
The History of Israel on One Page
Robert Jensen
Neither cis nor TERF
Louis Proyect
Faith or Action in a World Hurtling Toward Oblivion?
David Yearsley
The Ubiquitous Mr. Desplat
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail