U.S. should accept Cuban aid

The United States cannot afford to reject unconditional relief from any country.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the world was shocked and horrified as the globe’s only superpower failed miserably at saving thousands of its own citizens from a predictable natural disaster. People around the world wondered how the richest country on the planet could have corpses rotting in streets and chaos among its hundreds of thousands of hurricane refugees.

Nonetheless, just as they did after the tsunami, country after country, both friend and foe, offered generous humanitarian aid to the victims of the natural disaster. The Bush administration went on record and stated that the United States would accept all aid but later backpedaled and said it would not accept aid from countries that did not have diplomatic ties with the U.S. This response was in large part because of Cuba’s offer to send nearly 1,600 of its doctors to help with the relief effort. In this state of emergency it is, at the very least, negligent to reject any form of unconditional aid from any country. Right now there are an estimated 23,000 people housed in unsanitary conditions in the Houston Astrodome. This is to say nothing of the displaced citizens still in New Orleans. These people deserve to be put above politics. They urgently need medical care. The Bush administration and the people of the United States cannot afford to do anything but take all aid offers in good faith. Accepting the Cuban doctors would be the first step toward reconciling the appalling mistakes the U.S. government has already made in this disaster.

There is no question that these doctors are qualified to help treat the victims of this human tragedy as Cuba has seen more than its fair share of hurricanes. Moreover, the United States should look toward Cuba as an example for disaster prevention and recovery. The 2004 North Atlantic hurricane seasons saw four major hurricanes. Cuba was struck by all four but incurred very low mortality rates. Because of this, the U.N. General Assembly named Cuba one of the best examples of national hurricane procedure and included the country in its international strategy for disaster prevention.

Given the scale of the hurricane disaster, this is one instance when the United States cannot afford to “go it alone.”