LOS ANGELES (September 8, 2008) Los Angeles-based international disaster relief group, Operation USA, announced today that it would send emergency assistance to Cuba’s main pediatric hospitals so that they could better respond to the medical needs of children stemming from the devastation caused by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Ike is hitting Camaguey Province, Cuba’s capitol, Havana, and threatening widespread damage to Cuba’s agricultural fields throughout the island. Hurricane Gustav destroyed over 100,000 homes in Pinar del Rio province and on the Isle of Youth. Operation USA has been licensed by the US Government to provide private humanitarian aid to Cuba since 1994.
Richard Walden, President of Operation USA, was critical of the US Government response, especially that of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Walden said: “The Cuban Government has organized its disaster response effort time and again to mitigate loss of life. The US Government for 49 years has clung to a trade embargo denying Cuba’s people life saving medicines and equipment so that Cuba’s Government might be seen to fail its own people. That has never happened and the US should immediately change its policy to engage rather than strangle Cuba. We provide help with great sadness as all Cuba has asked for is an opportunity to purchase needed supplies, not to ask for charity. With even Miami’s hardline Congressional delegation asking for official US assistance, Rice stands alone in her obstinacy towards Cuba.”
Operation USA is appealing to individuals, foundations and companies for money and appropriate relief supplies to enable it to respond effectively in Cuba.