From abroad, offers of aid for Katrina victims

Offers of hurricane relief aid have poured into the U.S. from more than 90 nations, rich and poor alike.

Cuba and Venezuela were the first to offer help, although Cuba is not included in the list of donors distributed by the U.S. State Department.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced Aug. 31 that its state-owned Citgo Petroleum Corp. had already pledged $1 million for hurricane aid plus a battalion from the Simon Bolivar humanitarian team, two mobile hospital units, specialists in rescue operations, water purifying plants, electricity generators, and tons of bottled water and food. Citgo has a network of oil refineries and gas stations in the U.S. It opened its Lake Charles, La., refinery to give shelter and aid to some 2,000 area residents.

In an Aug. 30 statement from its Cuba Interests Section in Washington, Cuba expressed condolences for the victims and offered immediate medical assistance (see page 7 for full story). The offer was reiterated Sept. 2 and 3.

A solidarity message from the National Assembly of People’s Power of the Republic of Cuba said: “This disaster, with its death toll and suffering, affects all citizens of the United States, but its scourge is felt all the more strongly by African Americans and by poor Latino and U.S. workers, who constitute the majority of those who are still waiting to be rescued and taken to safe places, and account for the greatest number of fatal victims and people who have lost their homes.

“This news brings much pain and sorrow to the Cuban people. On their behalf, we wish to send a sincere message of solidarity to the American people, to state and local authorities and to the victims of this catastrophe. Every nation must feel this tragedy as its own.”

Other aid offered included high-speed water pumps from Germany, ready-to-eat meals from NATO and disaster relief experts from the United Nations and the European Union. War-torn Afghanistan, tsunami-struck Thailand and poverty-stricken Bangladesh were the latest Asian nations to offer aid and expertise.

The World Federation of Trade Unions issued a statement expressing “deep grief over the immense loss of lives and the colossal destruction” and outrage that “the disaster that has befallen New Orleans was long predicted but the warning signs were ignored.” WFTU called for “urgent action by the authorities in the United States and the international community to organize relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction that are urgently needed.”

The Communist Party USA reported receiving messages of solidarity and condolences from sister parties around the world. The messages voiced shock and indignation at the indifference and inaction of the U.S. government.

The Greek Communist Party (KKE) wrote, “We kindly ask you to convey the sympathy and solidarity of the Greek communists to the families of the victims, the millions of workers, the poor and racially excluded that, once more, have been the first to pay the heavier price.

“The tragedy of New Orleans reveals once more a social system that for the sake of profits does not care for life and death. There is absolutely no excuse for the government of the technologically, economically and militarily most powerful capitalist country in the world, that has shown such provocative indifference for the consequences of a perfectly predictable natural catastrophe.

“What hit New Orleans was capitalism which deliberately sacrifices human lives for the sake of profits, abandoning to their fate the victims of natural disasters.

“This is also demonstrated in the case of the war in Iraq, of the greenhouse effect, of the overexploitation of the natural resources.”

The Peoples Party of Palestine (PPP) and the Palestine Liberation Organization Department of Arab and International Relations each sent messages of solidarity and sympathy with the American people and an appeal for all peoples, governments and organizations to offer help and assistance.

Pamella Saffer (psaffer@cpusa.org) is international secretary of the CPUSA.



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