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Black Cubans Still Suffering from Hurricane Sandy

Black Cubans Still Suffering from Hurricane Sandy

Tuesday, 13 November 2012 09:49

Some say assistance given to white Cubans first, little for Blacks

By José Pérez

Special to the NNPA from The Miami Times

For centuries, Santiago de Cuba has been a loud and lively city nestled

at the foot of mountains that meet the Caribbean Sea. Birthplace of

people like Desi Arnaz, Rita Marley, and Afro-Cuban military genius

Antonio Maceo, Santiago and its residents are always vibrant. It is

because of this that a walk around the densely-populated city in the

immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy indicated that something was very

wrong. "Santiago is wrapped in a deafening silence of despair," said Dr.

Alberto Jones of the Caribbean American Children's Foundation, who grew

up in nearby Guantanamo and had been in Cuba visiting family and friends

when the killer storm hit.

What Jones witnessed in Santiago was not limited to Cuba's second city.

He describes what he saw in places like Songo, La Maya, and Guantanamo

as "horrifying, devastating, and unbelievable." Describing the damage

inflicted on Eastern Cuba as "massive," Jones added that "hundreds of

roads are blocked and overflowing rivers have washed away railroad

tracks and bridges" in the area. Jones notes that 90 percent of

Santiago's residents are Black Cubans.

Ventura Figueras Lores, a reporter in Guantanamo, said that, despite

obstacles, "chlorine and other disinfecting products to purify water for

human consumption" are being distributed for free through the Cuban

government's pharmacy network. Both men point out that rebuilding

efforts are already underway. Even nontraditional workers like older

adults and children are involved with the process, says Jones.

His wife, Sylvia Jones, says such a proactive approach to hurricanes is

nothing new for Cubans.

"Cuba has the best record in the Caribbean as far as casualties after

storms are concerned," she said. "Everyone knows where to go, what to

do. And they don't wait for you to evacuate — they come and pick you up."

Death still strikes

In light of that, the Joneses and many others were devastated by the

news that 11 people in Cuba alone were killed because of the storm.

"There are tens of thousands of roofless or windowless homes, schools,

healthcare facilities, nursing homes, daycares and cultural centers that

were partially or totally destroyed," Jones added. "It is simply

heartbreaking."

"Here, despite all of the adversity is a real human hurricane," Figueras

said.

He explained that this "human hurricane" is evident by "the people along

with the authorities rushing into affected areas with help despite the

scarcity of resources."

But while volunteers have been going into Eastern Cuba to aid with the

recovery, more help is clearly needed.

"We are asking every concerned and caring individual to open their

hearts," said Jones, who has spent more than 20 years directing

humanitarian efforts in Eastern Cuba from his home in Northeast Florida.

Mrs. Jones says they must "get the word out," for the need for help for

Black Cubans who often do not benefit from the remittances that Cubans

in the U.S. (many of whom are white) send to their relatives on the island.

http://www.blackvoicenews.com/news/news-wire/48326-black-cubans-still-suffering-from-hurricane-sandy.html

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