Hurricane-ravaged Cuba needs your help!

Dear Friends,

Hurricane Gustav has inflicted grievous damage on Cuba, including the destruction of 100,000 homes and crops worth millions of dollars. It is Cuba’s worst hurricane in 50 years.

Like you, our hearts ache for the Cubans who are dealing with this tragedy. We are writing this special appeal now to ask you to join our organizations and other Americans who want to help the Cuban people by sending charitable aid for recovery from this terrible storm.

While Cuba was broadly battered by Hurricane Gustav, the Isle of Youth and the province of Pinar Del Rio bore the brunt of the devastation. No human lives were taken, but Cubans have lost their homes, food, schools, and livelihoods. Pinar Del Rio, a region of stunning natural beauty, has been wrecked by the storm’s ferocious winds and rain. Gustav delivered a cruel, devastating blow.

Other countries are doing their part. Russian planes have already landed in Cuba providing its first significant assistance since the fall of the Berlin Wall. A plane sent by the Spanish Government carrying 15 tons of supplies will land in the next day or two. Venezuela, China, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico have also offered aid. Now it is time for our country to do its part.

Years of antagonism between United States and Cuba mean that traditional offers of assistance, government to government, will neither be made nor accepted. But there are steps that can be taken – right away – that would help the people of Cuba at this moment of great need.

First, we have identified 6 organizations operating here in the U.S. which can legally accept contributions from U.S. citizens that can, in turn, send aid to Cuba. We strongly urge everyone who can donate money to do so through any of these groups. We are asking that checks be written to the organization(s) you choose and then mailed to one place so that we can keep track of the money we have collectively raised and report back to all of you. We will immediately send your checks on to the organizations you have identified. Please write checks to one of the organizations listed below and then mail checks to: Cuba Hurricane Relief, P.O. Box 53106, Washington, DC 20009. (Note: you can also donate online directly to any of these organizations, or through the Cuba Central site at http://democracyinamericas.org/donate/)

Second, please join us in asking U.S. policy makers to free Cuban-Americans from restrictions that prevent them from providing aid to their own suffering families on Cuba. Until this tragedy is resolved, there should be no restrictions on their ability to send money and relief packages, or to travel and offer a helping hand, to family members in need. Cuban dissidents such as Martha Beatriz Roque and Vladimiro Roca have asked President Bush to do this, and he should respond positively to their pleas – and ours. You can reach your Representative by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121.

This is both the hurricane season and the political season, but humanity should trump politics, especially now. Please join us in providing charitable assistance to the Cuban people and the opportunity for Cuban-Americans to help their families. It is the right thing to do, and the right time to do it.

Sincerely,

Cuba Central and Center for Democracy in the Americas
Center for International Policy
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

1. Global Links

Global Links’ program of medical aid to Cuba began in 1994 at the request of The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). This program is a federally licensed humanitarian aid program. Aid sent is received and distributed to health institutions by the PAHO/WHO office in Havana and the Cuban Ministry of Health. Global Links has received a list of requested products from PAHO and is raising funds to purchase and send them to Cuba. (http://www.globallinks.org/where_we_work/cuba/)

2. Operation USA

Since its inception in September 1998, CMAP has delivered major shipments to pediatric hospitals and other health facilities. Supplies are donated by private companies, hospitals and physicians and are sent to Cuba under license from the U.S.-Departments of Commerce and Treasury. Operation USA is accepting cash contributions to pay for shipping medical supplies to Cuba. (http://www.opusa.org/wherewework/international/cuba/mainpage.html)

3. MEDICC

MEDICC-Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba, is a non-profit organization working to enhance cooperation among the US, Cuban and global health communities aimed at better health outcomes. MEDICC supports education and development of human resources in health committed to equitable access and quality care, providing the Cuban experience to inform global debate, practice, policies and cooperation in health. MEDICC is seeking financial donations to replenish stocks of key medical reference books lost at the badly damaged Isle of Youth Medical School, where over 2,000 young Cubans study medicine and public health. (http://www.medicc.org/ns/index.php?s=3&p=3)

4. Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services has worked with Caritas Cubana, the Catholic Church’s relief agency, to provide emergency, humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable and needy people in Cuba since 1993. CRS delivers medicine, medical supplies, food and clothing to Cuba for distribution in hospitals, homes for the elderly, and to children with Down syndrome and other vulnerable groups. CRS is working with Caritas Cubana in the affected areas in infrastructure projects and assistance with access to food, hygiene products and water. (http://crs.org/Cuba/)

5. Jewish Solidarity

Since 1993, Jewish Solidarity has delivered over 35 tons of medicine, food and other supplies to Cuba’s more than 1500 Jews in Havana and throughout this island nation. They have a humanitarian license that allows them to collect financial donations to then buy the necessary items that are most needed in Cuba. Jewish Solidarity is accepting financial donations to buy medicine, food and other supplies to be distributed in Cuba.

6. Daughters of Charity

The Daughters of Charity, a non-profit organization based in Miami, Florida, that has been sending humanitarian goods to Cuba since 1994. You can send a check donation so they can buy needed food items and pay the cost of the containers they will be sending to Cuba.

All donations are tax deductible. Please include your name, address and phone number on any mailed donations in order to receive a donation confirmation letter.

Please mail checks to: Cuba Hurricane Relief, P.O. Box 53106, Washington, DC 20009.

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