I have followed the history of hurricanes that have affected Cuba since the devastating Hurricane Flora in 1963, admiring the effort that the government has made to protect the population and the resources of the island from this destructive phenomenon, that could well be seen as a metaphor for other afflictions undeserved by the island. The repeated attacks on Cuba by hurricanes since that time have made us aware of the fact that, given Cuba’s geographical location, despite the scientific measures that have been taken and the cooperative efforts of the Cuban population, the Sisyphean destructive consequences of this meteorological phenomenon cannot be eliminated.
Hence friends of Cuba have to be asked upon to respond with patience and generosity to calls for support of hurricane recovery efforts.
Fortunately, in many cases these friends, through their own analyses of the circumstances, do not wait to be called upon, but instead often only need to be informed of ways in which they can help efficiently and effectively.
This is due to another basic truth, which is that Cuba is so incomparably efficient in its use of the help that is given to the country and so attentive to the needs of suffering humanity, while being prompt, sensitive and effective, that people simply need to be informed of its thoughts and deeds in order to be moved to react positively.
José Martí advocated for campaigns of “science and tenderness” that didn’t exist in his time. These are now a common feature of Cuban reality. As Cuba’s national poet, Nicolás Guillén, has written: “It was promised to us by Martí and Fidel has carried it out.”
There are matters such as the banking procedures that continue to help us to clarify, adapting to changes that are deemed necessary in time by the Cuban authorities and which are often the result of actions taken by the U.S. authorities.
All the donations go directly to an agency established by the highest authority of the Cuban state, the Council of State. We get receipts from that agency for our donations. No funds whatsoever are deducted from the donations. We here provide funds for incidental expenses.
We continue to explore ways of restoring the very beneficial and stimulative facility of obtaining charitable tax receipts for our Canadian donors. The co-presidents of the CNC, Isaac Saney and Liz Hill, stand ready to make the processes as smooth as possible.
People who wish to donate to the CNC Hurricane Irma Relief Fund should write their cheques to “CNC”, putting “CNC Hurricane Irma Relief Fund” on the memo line. Those wishing to send U.S. dollars should send money orders so that the amount in U.S. dollars can be converted into Canadian dollars by the CNC before sending it on to Cuba. The cheques or money orders should be mailed to CNC Hurricane Relief, 56 Riverwood Terrace, Bolton, ON L7E 1S4. We will soon be providing information on how donations can be made electronically.
Visit the CNC website here.
The following is a poem that emerged from our experience of and reflection on a recent hurricane:
I’m Sandy, too morally blank to be ashamed.
Born in Central American jungle heat,
sucking moisture from trees long nurtured
by the bloodied victims of protected tyrants.
Friendly pressures strengthened my monstrous growth,
leading me straight to candid Jamaica
to make boulders fly and smash the fragile
dwelling of the elderly owner and the owner.
In bare and slippery Haiti my wide wet wings
hastened the muddy burial of Jacqueline Tatille;
her four children that she had tried to save,
aged five to seventeen, became her smothered company.
A category two they had upgraded me
on my way to defiant Cuba.
The most discerning could perceive
that my gusts and surges I had maximized
to equal the top category five.
Perfected thus my armoury
I pounced on Santiago:
the steed of monumental Maceo whinnied and shook;
four-month-old Roldán found his house’s walls
pinning his cradled infancy to the unyielding floor.
I tumbled trees as old as Hatuey,
wounded all that sustains life,
speeding in blind fury
through sleepy Oriente.
And everywhere the erstwhile livestock
lying stiffly swollen on the flattened fields.
In dispersed Bahamas
I swept away a banker and a pauper
and disguised my prideful surge
to give deceptive force
to my downgraded self.
Superstorm they would come to say.
I hurled granular sea waves
into Wall Street’s secret depths.
With whetted appetite I drowned houses and people,
tore forever from their mother’s arms
Connor aged five and Brandon, two;
while her Staten Island neighbours
impassive, mimicking me, gave no help.
Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, Bahamas, U.S.A:
the same winds and waters
caused moans and tears
desolation and death
in a few short days.
I imposed a suffering shared,
reminding them of common humanity.
I’m now a memory spent in Canada’s vastness,
too morally blank to be ashamed.
But what of the suffering
enforced by one on the other:
the blockade inhumanly designed
for inhuman suffering,
suffering for half a century now,
from Flora ‘til me;
and for how much longer
will it, like me, be too morally blank
to be ashamed?