Floods in Granma Province (photo: govt of Cuba)
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While Cuba is trying to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and resist the devastating, genocidal and internationally illegal US blockade, it now faces the aftermath of unprecedented flooding due to heavy rains. Since the rains started on 8 June, eight people have died, tens of thousands have been evacuated and significant damage has been done to nearly ten thousand homes. Almost 500 homes have been completely destroyed. Thousands of hectares of crops, including sugar cane, have been ruined. Roads and other infrastructure have been badly damaged in the eastern provinces of Granma, Santiago de Cuba, Camaguey and Las Tunas.

As a small-island nation in the Caribbean that has been historically underdeveloped by colonialist and imperialist exploitation, Cuba is disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change and is likely to continue to face deadly results. However, thanks to its socialist system, Cuba has planned community responses to disasters, which includes a Civil Defense system with a national network set up to protect people and the environment from increasingly unpredictable and extreme climate-change induced events. The Civil Defense system, alongside members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), have been leading response efforts to the floods. This has included President Miguel Diaz-Canel and members of the PCC Central Committee, who visited eastern Cuba to assess the damages caused by the floods and discuss what will be necessary for recovery.

British banks and institutions illegally enforce the US blockade on Cuba, undermining efforts to raise material aid for disasters such as the tornado in 2018 and the Matanzas fires in 2022. Platforms like PayPal, JustGiving and Crowdfunder confiscate funds and close down fundraising pages. British banks block payments, and in some cases shut down accounts, that reference ‘Cuba’. In this context, the 1c4Cuba campaign was set up to challenge the extraterritorial application of the blockade and make the blockade unenforceable (visit https://1c4cuba.eu/).

Socialist Cuba has a long history of providing international support and solidarity in the face of disasters. In March they sent a contingent of 17 doctors, nurses and epidemiologists from the Henry Reeve Brigade to help the recovery efforts after flooding in Chile left 26 dead. Now, more than ever, Cuba needs our solidarity. RATB is sending a solidarity brigade to Cuba in December 2023, which will bring medical equipment and other vital material aid. Please donate here: https://ratb.org.uk/about-us/brigades-to-cuba/brigade-2023