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Why is the UN donating $42 million to Cuba without demanding that it reach the victims?

'Senior UN officials should have demanded that the Cuban government commit, in writing, to the donation reaching the victims of Hurricane Ian free of charge.'

A house destroyed by Hurricane Ian, Pinar del Rio.
A house destroyed by Hurricane Ian, Pinar del Rio. AFP

Given all the condemnations and the repeatedly proven fact that the Castro regime hijacks international humanitarian aid donations, UN high officials should have demanded from the Cuban government a written pledge that the donation will actually reach the victims of Hurricane Ian, and free of charge.

So should the European Union (EU) and the Canadian government, led by leftist Justin Trudeau. But no one did, even though their ambassadors in Havana are witnesses to the repeated Castroist embezzlement of funds and products (because that's exactly what it is) that reach Cuba as humanitarian aid.

On October 12, the UN announced "a 42 million dollar action plan" to support some 800,000 people in the provinces of Pinar del Rio and Artemisa affected by the storm.

The EU, meanwhile, revealed that it will give (or has already given) the Cuban dictatorship one million euros to help the victims. "Our emergency aid will help provide vital support to those directly affected on the ground," said Crisis Management Commissioner Janez Lenarčič.

Moreover, on October 14 the Canadian Embassy in Cuba reported the delivery of a donation to the Cuban authorities of $1.2 million in medical supplies for the population affected by the fire at the Matanzas supertanker base, and later by Hurricane Ian.
In the heat of the moment, upon reading the news of the Canadian aid, Cuban activist Felix Llerena, youth ambassador for Cuba for the Youth and Democracy in the Americas organization, asked, "Did you give it to the Church or to charitable groups? Or to the totalitarian state that steals the donations and then sells them to the people?"

Regarding the main donation, the UN’s, spokesman Stephane Dujarric explained that the $42 million plan will target housing, health, education, food security, access to clean water and electricity. To finance the plan, the U.N. has already disbursed $7.8 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund and $3.7 million from its Cuba country team budget. That's $11.5 million to start.

From a humanitarian viewpoint, good news, but...

Undoubtedly, in humanitarian terms, the news is magnificent. In terms of housing alone, the hurricane in Pinar del Río totally destroyed 11,524 homes and partially destroyed another 49,091. The problem is that of those 42 million dollars from the UN, and the other two million dollars, the victims will receive little, perhaps very little, at least for free, if experience with past situations like this is any indicator.

It is well known that cash and products that are donated to the island are seized and handled exclusively by the dictatorship, which baldly uses them to cover governmental expenses and needs.

The regime does not allow churches or prestigious humanitarian institutions to be in charge of distributing the aid received, and on top of this, profits from that aid through stores. It is even known that members of the dictatorial elite make profits off these  donated funds and products.

For decades independent journalists and Cuban activists have been decrying this, and requesting that all humanitarian aid to Cuba be distributed through independent NGOs or humanitarian organizations. But no one listens to them, least of all UN and EU officials, who are increasingly leaning to port (the left).

There is an abundance of documented evidence indicating that humanitarian aid sent to Cuba does not actually reach its intended recipients, or very little of it; or recipients are forced to pay for it.

On the same day that the $42 million in aid was announced, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reported that it did not yet know the ultimate location of the 43 complete firefighter protection kits it sent to Cuba after the fire at the Matanzas supertanker base, in which 17 firefighters died, including several young men completing compulsory military service.
Searching almost at random, we find that in January of 2012 the opposition organization Cuban Democratic Alliance criticized the sale at MLC stores of donations delivered after Hurricane Sandy hit the island.

The regime claims that donations can't be given for free

In September 2017, the regime was caught red-handed and had to admit that it was selling humanitarian aid it had received after Hurricane Irma. In a ministerial resolution, it argued that the donations could not be given out for free because the victims had to cover "the costs of distribution and transport."

In July 2021 the ship Libertador arrived in Havana from Mexico carrying 600 tons of rice, beans, powdered milk, wheat flour, tuna and cooking oil, among other foodstuffs, to aid the people of Cuba during the Covid-19 crisis.

Shortly afterwards, several Internet users from Havana reported the sale of these donations at MLC stores. "Three days ago the last shipment of Mexican humanitarian aid arrived and the regime has already begun to stock the MLC stores with sacks of rice and grains 'Made in Mexico'" at an average price of 25 dollars each," said one of them.

In August of 2021, in Ranchuelo, Villa Clara, Diario Las Américas spoke with a woman who denounced the president of the CDR herself for "selling food packages to households; here they don't give a thing away, they're like hunting dogs going after the money."

Unconditional humanitarian aid benefits the ruling mafia

The UN World Food Program (WFP) could not explain how a donation of 253 tons of sunflower oil and 430 tons of wheat flour from that entity ended up at MLC stores. In this regard, the Ministry of Domestic Trade shamelessly reported that "the decision to sell donated oil was an alternative to the shortages experienced on the island." Period.

In the end, these millions in UN aid, and other donations, may once again end up being a kind of subsidy for the 60-year old dictatorship.

In short, it is reprehensible, but it accords perfectly with Castroist logic, that with the "revolutionary" economy already almost destitute, the government mafia should seize, more than ever, a good part of that international aid.

And what about the desperate families who lost their homes, all their belongings, their crops and animals, who don't have a roof over their heads or food? "Too bad," Raúl "The Cruel" and the mobsters who continue to prop him up in power might say, even if he's already decrepit, and more perverse than ever.

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