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Cuban Victims of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike Tell their Stories
By Directorio Democrático Cubano

9/15/2008   Iris Pérez Aguilera, Placetas, Villa Clara.

 

Sale of relief supplies from Russia

 

My name is Iris Pérez Aguilera, a human rights activist from the Pedro Luis Boitel Political Prisoners. On Saturday the 13th I went to the “Cubalse” store, formerly the “Tencén” and on arriving at the store I found that tents were being sold at too high a price. As I understand it, those are the donated tents that came from Russia for hurricane victims here in Cuba, and the fact that with so many people who have been left helpless and without homes, the tents are at $22.45 CUC [convertible pesos] and $17.40 CUC at that store seemed remarkable to me. This pains me greatly, seeing how so many people have been left without a roof over their heads, to see so many people helpless and that they are selling those tents that were donated from other countries for those brothers who find themselves without housing today.

 

9/15/2008   José Ramón Herrera, Antilla, Holguín.

 

Sale of rechargeable lamps at very high prices

 

José Ramón Herrera Hernández here, a member of the Eastern Democratic Alliance here in the municipality of Antilla in Holguín province. I wanted to denounce this act of manipulation and disrespect by the Castro government that is selling rechargeable lamps in foreign currency-only stores at $17, $9, and $30. And this with the people of the municipality of Antilla, still without electricity 9 days after the hurricane having hit, the water situation- there is no water- the contamination, the worry among the people since there have already been cases of diarrhea caused by viruses. The situation is chaotic here in the municipality of Antilla. The food situation- the food being sold is insufficient and in poor conditions. The situation here in Antilla is quite chaotic. They want to remove the people who are sheltered in schools and workplaces, they want to remove them onto the streets, and then these people have nowhere to go. The situation the people of Antilla are facing is difficult at this moment.

 

9/15/2008  Martha Díaz Rondón, Banes, Holguín.

 

Forcible removal of evacuees

 

The evacuees sheltered at the Palace of People’s Power in Banes were forcibly removed by police because they did not want to go. Many were evacuated to the textile mill, and others were told that they were going to have little tents set up. Most of them do not want to go where they are going to set up the little tents for them because it is far from town, and they are people who lost their houses here in town, others in the countryside, but the majority of the evacuated people from the city of Banes find themselves desperate. Many are crying, others have even wanted to take their own lives. A family here in the municipality of Banes finds itself in a state of total desperation, who did not want to but were removed from there and many were removed from the schools. There is a family here that has a retarded child, and they are in the rear of the school and they want to remove them by force. There is also a little old man, the mother of a child who is retarded, who has problems. The situation in which the people here in Banes find themselves is desperate. Marta Díaz Rondón, reporting from Banes, representative of the Eastern Democratic Alliance.

 

9/15/2008   Rodolfo Barthelemy Cobas, Baracoa, Guantánamo. 

 

The government does not give anything freely. It sells to us.

 

I want to state at this time that things are not happening the way the Cuban government is making public on several radio and television stations regarding the aid that is being offered to the people of Cuba, because one day after the hurricane over here in Baracoa nothing was being given freely to the people on Flor Crombet, Máximo Gómez, and Malecón streets, nothing to the hurricane victims who were there trying to recover something of their homes, witnessing with tremendous pain the way the sea destroyed their homes. Rather, they were being sold yogurt at 3 pesos, crackers were being sold at 50 cents, a pound of thawed chicken was sold at 20 pesos per pound, and well, you can imagine how people fought for a piece of chicken.

 

The truth is that they really have not donated anything. As far as the milk for the children in those families who lost their ration books and whose powdered milk got wet, nearly a week has passed and those children have not been given milk nor the promised ration booklet at least for the children who are going hungry, crying and asking of their parents out of their need and hunger. At this time, roof tiles are being given to certain people. They take the tiles home and place them, then a social worker comes by to do the paperwork and charge you for these tiles. If you do not have property you do not get the tiles. That is to say, that they are giving out some fiber reinforced concrete tiles, and some made of cardboard that melt away into nothing with two or three downpours, so those who do not own a house do not have the right to receive fiber reinforced concrete tiles, but rather a kind of tile called “infinite,” that are black tiles that offer no security, that do not protect any family from the rains, within a month.  

 

These are the things that are happening over here in Baracoa, and I should tell you that at least in the Paso de Cuba area nobody was evacuated. People evacuated on their own, running the risk, and the families that sheltered other families in their houses did not have their food replenished. Two days ago is when they began to distribute food, and totally poorly prepared, those sheltered in a former industrial building in Paso de Cuba in Baracoa are living in completely inadequate conditions, as well as those in the Culture House only after two days did these people begin receiving, for sale, a little food, a little rice with a fried egg, or a little pea stew. This is true, and we want the world to know it, that it not let itself be deceived and whoever really wants to see whether it is true or false should come here to Baracoa. This was a report by Rodolfo Barthelemy Coba, from Cuba’s primatial city.

 

Idania Yánez Contreras, Santa Clara, Villa Clara.   

 

Here in the Virginia neighborhood where I live, I can talk about it because I am seeing it. Government functionaries may have passed by the affected houses of the people here in Virgina, but they have not distributed one sole fiber reinforced concrete tile. They have not given anything. They did pass by making note of people and observing the damage they suffered, but they have not even given a single cardboard title to those people whose homes were damaged. I do not know about this afternoon, but as of now they have not received anything here in Santa Clara. I live on Martha Abreu 93 between B and C, in the Virginia neighborhood of the city of Santa Clara.

 

 

9/16/2008  Roberto González Pelegrín, Baracoa, Guantánamo.

 

City of Baracoa. September 16. The elderly Doris Cuervo, 96 years old, living in the Bahía de Mata area is enduring great hardship due to the loss of her bed mattress caused by the catastrophic natural disaster of Hurricane Ike. Her granddaughter, social worker Dayanni Reyes Real has informed various members of the Communist Party, Civil Defense, and the corrupt area delegate Luz María Husbelle Miranda of the current sad situation faced by her impoverished grandmother. They responded that her problems would be solved later. Ten days have passed and Doris Cuervo sleeps today on a homemade mattress made from grasses for the grazing of animals called “parcillo.” We call on the Raúl Castro government that so often stands in solidarity with so many countries in the world not to continue politicizing the misfortunes of the people and that it quickly and humanely provide a mattress for the poor, elderly Doris Cuervo. Roberto González Pelegrín, activist from the John Paul II Opposition Movement.

 

9/5/2008  Eddy, resident of Nueva Gerona, Isla de Pinos.

 

Ramón Salazar, an activist from the Isle of Pines, asks a citizen:

-If you were to be sent international aid, would you accept it or not accept it?

 

-Of course I would accept it, because I need it.

 

-And why would you accept it?

 

-Because I am in need, because here they have not given out anything.

 

-What is your name?

 

-Eddy.

 

-And was your house very much affected?

 

-Not affected as much as other citizens’ were, but we were affected because it knocked down a wall from the front of my house, and the doors, and the windows, and I have two small daughters.

 

-As of now, what have the authorities told you?

 

-Authorities? What authorities? No one has come by here. It has been more than five days and no one has come by here, not even to tell us lies or to tell us the truth, or to say anything, or to take a statement about what we need, what was affected. In short, no one has come by here. And the food- Please! Just right now they brought out here five pounds of pork per family, and there is not enough because they are giving it out bit by bit, and God knows whether those pigs were the ones that drowned and died. People are afraid to buy those things because of the epidemics and things that may come later.

 

-And have you gone to make claims to the government organs concerning the need for this aid?

 

-But where are we going to go make claims if the government does not show up anywhere? They do not even show up at the government building. The hurricane destroyed it as well. They must be at their houses or in their cars out there, God knows where they have hid themselves.

 

-That is to say, not even government functionaries are in their places of work.

 

-No, no, no, not even in their places of work or at their houses, because people have gone to look for them everywhere and the people affected by the hurricane have asked the government for help, and nothing. Information- none, zero. And as far as Cuban public opinion and the press on the Island, there has not been any hurricane. We are all happy here. In real life, they turned my light back on at 11 something at night and I watched the news- Pinar del Río, Pinar del Río, Pinar del Río, but just two or three places in Pinar del Río and four or five people speaking well of the Revolution because they had brought them some singers and comedians there to entertain them for a while so they would forget the catastrophe, but here, not even that, because if they were at least to bring some comedians to make us laugh, at least we could be happy about something.

 

-That is to say, in the international press, nothing is published about the situation you are in.

 

-No, no, no, absolutely nothing, because the noon news broadcast lasts one hour and they did not talk about things here for even two seconds. Everything they said was, “the airplanes,” and “the roof tiles,” and “cold cuts,” and “this,” and “that,” but we do not see any of that here. Yes, airplanes when they pass by up there, but nobody from the government comes here to tell you that that airplane is going to bring you aid, that this one will bring you this, that, or whatever you need, or ask what you need. And there are Army officers who have removed guards from the unit to repair their houses, and we, who are the poor, nobody from the Army has come or anybody from the Party, or anyone from anywhere to help us here.

 

-That is to say, officers from the Armed Forces are using Armed Forces resources to solve their own problems.

 

-Of course, to solve their own problems.

 

-What hope do you have of being able to resolve this situation?

 

-Hope? Well, that I will be able to get money in some way, and buy my own materials on the black market, because all that is going to be on the black market here. Here, all  the materials that came in, the officials are going to steal them all to resell them overpriced, and then I am going to have to bite the bullet and have to buy all the overpriced materials because I need to solve my problems. But I have no hope that the government is going to solve anything for me, because they have never solved anything, and I have spent more than 30 years living on the Isle and it has never taken care of anything for me.

 

-Thank you, and we hope that the international community will be able to help relieve the situation you are facing and that the government will allow that aid to reach you.

 

-If only, if only! From your lips to God’s ears!

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