Da Black Whole

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Daily Rag: Cuba cubed

OK here's the "Cuba hit," from yesterday's post -- right on schedule

trippy . . .

even for an old hippy!

quite a difference in disaster preparedness -- not to mention leadership response and performance -- between the U.S. and Cuba

no wonder Cuba got the baleful stare and venom!

Cuba Rescues 250 Flood Victims From Wilma

By ANITA SNOW, Associated Press Writer

Mon Oct 24, 1:19 PM ET

HAVANA - Scuba diving teams in inflatable rafts pulled nearly 250 people from their flooded homes early Monday after massive waves churned by Hurricane Wilma flooded the capital's Malecon coastal highway and adjacent neighborhoods of old, crumbling buildings.

The communist-government's Revolutionary Armed Forces were also using amphibious vehicles to rescue people whose homes were flooded by more than 3 feet of water when the ocean penetrated more than four large city blocks into Havana's coast.

"We're amazed," resident Laura Gonzalez-Cueto said as she watched divers transporting small groups of people in the black inflatable rafts with outboard motors.

"Since early today, the water has come all the way up to Linea and Paseo," said Gonzalez-Cueto, referring to a major thoroughfare four blocks from the coast.

The outer bands of Wilma also drenched western Cuba and flooded evacuated communities along the island's southern coast after the hurricane clobbered Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The extent of damage in Cuba's north was not immediately known.

Late Sunday, Cuban President Fidel Castro appeared on a television program to calm Cubans anticipating increased winds and flooding as Wilma passed overhead en route to southwestern Florida. He also offered Cuban doctors to Mexico to help the neighboring nation recover from the natural disaster.

Castro praised the island's efficiency in hurricane preparation, saying that despite scarce resources, Cuba has become internationally recognized as "a model country that protects the lives of its citizens."
Cuba prides itself on saving lives during hurricanes, and its civil defense plans have been held up by the United Nations' as a model for other nations. Mandatory, widespread evacuations are common and face little resistance.

The government in recent days evacuated more than 625,000 people, particularly in the island's west.

Guanimar, a small fishing village of brightly painted wooden houses due south of Havana, was under water Sunday, with floodwaters as high as 3 feet in some places. The community frequently floods during hurricanes and its several hundred residents were evacuated as a precaution.

[today is Tuesday, October 25, and partly because of the last paragraph in the story below, I've appended this Reuters wire to the post above]

Mormon missions leave Venezuela over safety worries

By Patrick Markey

Tue Oct 25, 7:41 PM ET

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - More than 200 Mormon missionaries have left Venezuela due to security worries two weeks after President Hugo Chavez ordered a U.S. evangelist group expelled for spying, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

U.S. Ambassador to Caracas William Brownfield said the Mormons left Venezuela at the weekend, a fortnight after Chavez ordered out the New Tribes Mission evangelists on charges they were linked to the
and had abused indigenous groups.

"Most of them, almost 100 percent, are young between 18 and 19 years old and they decided that the security issue was a little complicated," Brownfield told reporters.

"Hopefully this doesn't produce an image or perception that there is a lack of tolerance in Venezuela because that would be the wrong image," he said.

A U.S. Embassy official confirmed 219 missionaries had left Venezuela.
Chavez, a self-styled socialist who often attacks the U.S. government and its foreign policies, briefly suspended foreign missionary permits in August after conservative U.S. evangelist Pat Robertson called on Washington to assassinate him.

His government ordered the New Tribes Mission to leave Venezuela a few days after Robertson again attacked Chavez, accusing him of funding Osama Bin Laden and seeking atomic material from

Venezuela dismissed the charges as absurd.

U.S. officials have rejected the New Tribes Mission spying charges and urged dialogue with the group. Authorities have not said when its members would have to leave Venezuela.

The Florida-based Christian evangelists have worked in Venezuela for 59 years preaching to Indian groups and translating scriptures into their native languages.

The mission incidents are the latest to test fraying relations between United States and Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter and a key supplier of petroleum and fuel to the huge U.S. market.

A former army officer elected in 1998, Chavez has promised to bring revolution to Venezuela with reforms for the poor. He says his policies are an alternative to failed U.S. capitalism and accuses Washington of plotting his overthrow.

U.S. officials have repeatedly denied those accusations as propaganda aimed at his power base among the poor. They charge Chavez and his ally Cuban leader Fidel Castro
are trying to undermine democratic governments in the region.


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