Seven Proposals After Hurricane Sandy / Yoani Sanchez
Translator: Unstated, Yoani Sanchez
Thursday morning will never be forgotten by thousands of people in
Eastern Cuba. The wind, flying roofs, heavy rains and trees falling on
streets and houses, will remain as permanent memories of Hurricane
Sandy. Nor will they be able to get out of their heads that first night
after the disaster in which, from their battered beds or rickety sofas,
they found nothing separating their faces from the starry night sky.
Some people lost everything, which was not much. People from whom the
gale took the modest possessions they'd accumulated over their whole
lives. A human drama extended over this area already affected beforehand
by material shortages, constant migration westward, and the outbreaks of
diseases like dengue fever and cholera. For the victims it rains and it
pours, literally and metaphorically. Nature intensifies the economic
collapse and social problems of this region of the country. So these are
the times to redouble our solidarity, to roll up our sleeves and help
them rebuild their homes, to divide the piece of bread, and to go all
out to contribute to those unlucky Cubans that Sandy left behind.
I think we all know what we can give and do, but I still dare to venture
some proposals directed at the Cuban authorities. The decisions they
make in the coming days will be crucial to shortening and mitigating the
tragedy. I hope they put aside ideological differences and open their
ears to the public that wants to contribute to the recovery of our
country. Solidarity should not be an institutional monopoly, it never
has been, and from this conviction arise proposals to make it more
effective, such as the following:
Eliminate the custom duties for entry into the country of food,
medicines, appliances and building materials.
Ensure that the public is organized to collect, transport and
deliver clothes, medicines and other resources to the affected areas.
Encourage and authorize the collection of funds and resources from
Cuban immigrants to bring to the island, both on a personal level as
well as a group or institutional level.
Ask for an assessment by and cooperation from international
organizations that provide aid, loans and advice to overcome this disaster.
In the worst hit provinces make the procedures more flexible for
obtaining construction permits, and also for the delivery of land in
Enact a moratorium on the collection of taxes from the
self-employed in the regions where Sandy destroyed important parts of
the economic and agricultural infrastructure.
Renounce the institutional monopoly on the distribution of support,
encouraging and respecting the existence of citizen channels to
26 October 2012