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Commerce Secretary Says U.S. Trying To Help Storm Victims In Cuba

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Commerce Secretary Says U.S. Trying To Help Storm Victims In Cuba

Mensaje por odioafifo el Miér Sep 17, 2008 6:56 pm

Related To Story Video: Commerce Secretary Says U.S. Trying To Help Storm Victims In Cuba Commerce Secretary Says U.S. Trying To Help Storm Victims In Cuba
Castro Calls U.S. Offers Of Aid 'Hypocritical' POSTED: 2:48 pm EDT September 17, 2008 UPDATED: 3:14 pm EDT September 17, 2008 MIAMI --

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce visited South Florida on Wednesday to speak about the U.S. government's offers to help people in Cuba who are victims of hurricanes Ike and Gustav. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez announced that federal disaster assistance would be provided to U.S. Gulf Coast fisheries that have been impacted repeatedly during the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. However, during his visit to the National Hurricane Center, Gutierrez focused on what the U.S. is doing to help hurricane victims in Cuba. "We are ready with a planeload of materials that would have been in Havana or wherever they would tell us to send it within 36 hours," Gutierrez said. "They rejected that offer." Hurricanes Gustav and Ike have brought some of the biggest blows to Cuba, which is only 90 miles from the U.S., so far during this hurricane season. After touring the National Hurricane Center on Wednesday, Gutierrez said aid has been offered repeatedly to Cuba, but it was turned down. First, the Cuban government did not like the idea of a U.S. assessment team coming in to survey the damage, so another deal was put on the table. "Five million dollars without the condition of having to send an assessment team. We did something that's frankly unprecedented," Gutierrez said. Cuba also dismissed that deal. There was talk of lifting the travel ban to the island for 90 days, but Gutierrez believes that would cause too much chaos. He also said allowing for a 90-day increase in the amount of money that can be sent to suffering family members would be a waste. "What we are hearing from Cubans in Cuba is they don't need money because there's nothing to buy," he said. Instead, the U.S. is giving money to non-governmental organizations in order to buy medicines, food, water and other necessities so the organizations can make sure they get to the needy people in Cuba. Fidel Castro Calls U.S. Offer Of Aid Hypocritical Ailing leader Fidel Castro said Cuba has too much dignity to accept U.S. handouts and said it is hypocritical for America to offer $5 million in hurricane recovery aid. The 82-year-old Castro said in an essay published by state media Wednesday that Cuba has suffered far more damage from the U.S. embargo over nearly half a century than from hurricanes Ike and Gustav, which caused about $5 billion in damage to Cuba this month. The former Cuban president said the island would benefit more from credits and an easing of restrictions so that it can buy building materials and other goods from the U.S.

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