by Lincoln DePradine
Amidst the broad mobilisation across Grenada — and in the Diaspora as well — to help regional countries recover and build back from the devastation of Hurricane Irma, some Grenadians are placing special focus on Cuba.
Those Grenadians, such as trade unionist and President of the Upper House of Parliament, Chester Humphrey, point to the unique situation of Cuba, which has been under a US blockade for more than half a century. In addition, they argue that Grenada owes a particular debt of gratitude to the government and people of Cuba for decades of support, including free students’ scholarships and Cuba’s role in the construction of the Maurice Bishop International Airport.
“No other country has helped Grenada as much as Cuba,’’ said Humphrey, emphasising the need to ‘give back something to a country (Cuba) that has given the world so much and today is in a state of serious need because of the destruction of Hurricane Irma.’
Grenadians, Humphrey said ‘must do our bit — no matter how small it is — to show to the people of Cuba that they don’t stand alone, and to show to the government of Cuba that we appreciate all that Cuba has done and still continues to do, even in the face of their own adversity.’
Humphrey wants Grenadians, who have been ‘beneficiaries of the Cuban education system,’ to play a leading role in the Cuban relief efforts in Grenada. Senator Winston Garraway, the minister with responsibility for disaster management and information, also reminded Grenadians that Cuba also came our country’s aid after the passage of Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
“We know the support that Cuba would have given to us after Ivan. I remember the teams of electrical workers who came and in my area, they spent few days and rewired the entire area,’’ Garraway recalled.
Just as Irma was battering Cuba last weekend, American President Donald Trump announced the extension of the trade embargo against the Spanish-speaking Caribbean nation for another year.
In a move some media in the United States described as ‘spiteful,’ the US administration issued the presidential memorandum, under the ‘Trading with the Enemy Act on Cuba,’ extending it until 14 September 2018.
Claris Charles, Grenada’s ambassador to Cuba, said people in hurricane affected areas, including the capital of Havana, are having a tough time.
“In Havana, the sea went up almost a mile into central Havana,’’ Charles said. “In some places, up to last night, they were delivering water. But there are still a lot of trees in the road, the houses are flooded and the whole northern hotel belt has been devastated.’’