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Washington ignores aid coming from Cuba

Over 1,500 doctors, 26 tons of medicines and medical equipment badly needed in the states affected by hurricane Katrina are waitng for US OK to be shipped
US President George W. Bush's administration has ignored all over the past weekend a generous offer of aid made by Cuba, as desperately makes calls to the European Union to get some supplies badly needed in the areas affected by Katrina. Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in turn, personally met on Sunday evening with 1,586 doctors toting backpacks filled with medicine and essential equipment for treating people in emergency conditions like those in the region lashed by the hurricane in the neighboring country.

According to the Cuban press agancy Prensa Latina, the president said that Cuba had "fulfilled its commitment, confirmed by the rapid constitution of the medical force to aid those affected by Katrina in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama." He noted that because of its proximity to the affected areas, it was possible for Cuba to send 1,100 doctors to save people in danger of dying, but the number of those called up had risen to 1,586.

"Forty-eight hours have passed, and we have not received any response to our offer," he noted. "We will wait patiently for as long as it takes," he added. If no response arrives, or if Cuba's cooperation were not necessary, it would not be any cause for discouragement among our ranks, he added.

"Very much on the contrary, we would be satisfied that we had fulfilled our duty, and extremely happy to know that not one more U.S. citizen out of those who suffered the painful and treacherous blow of Hurricane Katrina would die without medical attention, if that were to be the cause for our doctors' absence," he affirmed.

Despite the situation in the areas affected by Katrina is far from being under control, Cuba's generous offer has been ignored by US officials, who preferred to make desperate calls to distant European nations to cooperate on the assistance of the victims. Last reports coming from Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and the centers for refugees in Houston, Texas, show that victims are not in position to resist the poor conditions of living for too long.

The Cuban president stated that in this kind of situation, it didn’t matter how rich a country might be, or the number of its scientists or technical advances. "What is required at this moment is a team of young, well-trained professionals who, with a minimum of resources, can be sent where human beings are in danger of dying."

Castro also affirmed that in the case of Cuba, being geographically close to the affected areas, the circumstances were appropriate for offering aid to the U.S. people. Cuba has more than 130,000 health professionals, he noted, of whom more than 25,000 are on international missions in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Cuba, the country that waits for instructions to send an urgent aid mission, lives under a 40-year embargo imposed by the US. President Bush has repeatedly insisted in tightening the blockade of Cuba's commerce as a way to oust Castro from power.

Photo: Cuban doctors ready to fly to the areas affected by Katrina in the US.

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