Posted on Wed, Sep. 17, 2008
Political dispute delaying
In contrast to millions of dollars in relief aid sent to
The funding discrepancy comes as a diplomatic spat between
The Bush administration is expediting licenses to U.S.-based organizations that allows an increase in cash that can be sent to residents on the island. Many are taking advantage of the new rules to help storm victims. But some say
''The United States, in the past, has acted honorably and quickly in response to hurricanes in Central America, tsunamis in Indonesia and earthquakes in Pakistan: they come in first, with the most resources and without conditions,'' said Frank Mora, a Cuba expert at the National War College in Washington.
''That has not been the case for
Jorge Mas Santos, president of the Cuban American National Foundation, called the
Said U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutiérrez: ``
The U.S. State Department said the team is not a precondition for aid but did not explain why aid wasn't sent after the team was refused.
''Although the Cuban government has declined the offer of a humanitarian assessment team, we remain willing to send one,'' State Department spokeswoman Heide Bronke said. ``We are evaluating how best to provide additional humanitarian relief for Cuban victims of this disaster.''
She added that the
''We had over 400 people come fill out 600 applications,'' said CANF spokeswoman Sandy Acosta Cox. ``We were holding people in the parking area. It was like that all day.''
The political spat comes as new estimates on the extent of damages in
According to his organization's report, more than half a million homes were damaged and almost 350 bridges wiped out. He said 600 municipal water wells were damaged and some 500 miles of telephone and power poles are down. At least 150,000 people remain in shelters.
The town of
''I would say the situation in
The damage estimate is from $3 billion to $4 billion, Babún said, but the Cuban government is unlikely to want to release such a dire assessment. That figure coincides with an estimate by the United Nations.
''I think the Cuban government first of all hasn't done a full assessment and is trying to double-check with their assessment teams,'' he said. ``
The Cuban government also probably would be uncomfortable having a
''The Cuban government isn't accepting the
Miami Herald staff writers Liza Gross, Casey Woods and Patricia Mazzei and translator Renato Pérez contributed to this report.
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