President Bush has sunk to a new low with his offer to Cuba of $50,000 for hurricane relief. The $50,000 offer is another sign of animosity and disregard. It was intended and received as an insult. And it is also a great embarrassment to all U.S. citizens who care about the rest of the world.
Mr. Bush, the Cuban people don’t need $50,000. What they need is for us to step out of the way. If remittances by Cuban Americans were flowing without any restrictions, the $400 million needed for home repairs would be raised in no time. If Cuban Americans were allowed to visit their families any time they wanted to, as do all other immigrants in this country, then they could help rebuild those homes with their own hands. If the rest of us, US citizens were allowed unrestricted travel to Cuba, many of us would be there now standing by the Cuban people.
It is immoral to make it illegal for family members in the States to support and be with their loved ones in times of crisis. It is hard enough for family members to be separated, but it is indefensible to criminalize reunification. Under the current travel restrictions Cuban
Americans are only allowed to visit immediate family members once every three years --with no humanitarian exceptions! That means that children cannot see their dying parents; spouses have an imposed separation; and Cuban immigrants fighting in Iraq cannot even see their families during their leave.
It is a great insult to spend $60 million US tax dollars, as allocated by the Bush administration this year alone, to undermine the Cuban government and then turn around and throw $50,000 towards the Cuban people now. Hurricane Dennis hit 9 out of 14 provinces in Cuba and left 1.4 billion dollars in agricultural and housing damages. Offering only $50,000 is a disgrace.
The attitudes and actions of our current administration towards the international community leaves much to be desired in terms of diplomacy or generosity to say the least. We need to stop acting like the arrogant giant with the big guns. The best way to support the Cuban people now is to end the blockade against Cuba and allow Cuba to stand on its own.
The Bush Administration is obsessed with “bringing democracy to Cuba” at any cost, including the imposition of misery and further suffering on the same Cubans we aim to “set free.” Freedom begins by allowing people the right to determine their own future. It begins by defending true family values and allowing the Cuban family to unify in this time of crisis. It begins by allowing the human family to show compassion for one another.
Mr. Bush if you are really concerned with the well being of Cubans then lift the blockade.
Lucius Walker is the Executive Director for Pastors for Peace