Cuba Reports Progress on Sugar, Schools, and Diplomacy; America offers photo-ops instead of hurricane relief

Dear Friend:


During Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration was scorned for its indifferent response to broad suffering in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.  This indifference has now become the guiding hand of the administration’s response to the destruction in Cuba caused by this season’s hurricanes.


Specifically, it has terminated a license it granted just last month that enabled Cuban Americans to boost remittances for their relatives in Cuba, and it has rejected calls by Cuban dissidents on the island, by the public and public officials here, to set aside the restrictions it put into place in 2004 that limit not just financial support but also the number of visits families can make to the island in support of their relatives at this difficult time.


While the administration did offer government-to-government financial assistance, which Cuba turned down, it has inflexibly opposed suspending the embargo, to allow Cuba to purchase building materials, and rejected calls to end the restrictions on families.


Instead, photo-ops are the rule of the day.  Last week, President Bush traveled to Miami for a fundraiser, and while he met with political supporters in the Cuban American community, he offered no change, temporary or permanent in the policy.  This week, Laura Bush and Carlos Gutierrez had a video conference with political dissidents in Cuba and the official silence continued about how we could provide hurricane relief that would benefit Cubans and actually reach them when it could do so much good.


Of course, little of what was said in this video conference was reported by the administration, it could not be heard in Cuba, few people paid attention to it in the United States, and yet the message comes through loud and clear.  Our government’s hurricane relief policy amounts to little more than photo-ops, much like it was here in the United States three years ago.


News about Cuba’s recovery from the hurricanes and new diplomatic overtures from Spain, the EU and Mexico are among the highlights in this week’s summary.


We also urge you to visit our website, http://democracyinamericas.org/gallery/, where we continue to bring you new video recordings, now from Isla de la Juventud, where Cubans talked to our camera about the hurricanes, aid, and much more.

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