Daily Briefing – September 13, 2017

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Hurricane Irma has damaged much of Cuba’s infrastructure, including this seawall in Holguín. Photo from CARE Canada.

The latest news from Cuba, including updates on Hurricane Irma recovery.

Venezuelan aid arrives: A Venezuelan military aircraft carrying 7.3 tons of humanitarian goods was the first to arrive in Cuba since Hurricane Irma slammed into the island last week. The aircraft was carrying mattresses, water, and canned food. Roberto Lopez, Cuba’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade says this gesture reaffirms fraternal ties between the two nations, adding that many countries around the world have expressed their solidarity with Cuba in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Granma 

Donations for Irma survivors: It’s still too early to tell which major international aid organizations may be donating to Cuba’s Hurricane Irma relief efforts. The island’s authorities are still in the process of assessing damages. However, Vox has created a list of reputable disaster relief organizations that are working to bring relief to all countries caught in Hurricane Irma’s path. One of those organizations is Oxfam, which has been known to collaborate with Cuba in the wake of other major disasters. Vox

Update on Cuba’s main resort town: The Havana Times is publishing regular updates on the situation in Varadero, Cuba’s most popular resort destination.  During Hurricane Irma, many of its guests were asked to hunker down, and it also served as a temporary shelter for hundreds of tourists forced to evacuate the area’s barrier islands. The roads leading in and out of Varadero are still impassable because of downed trees and debris. Some hotels have been severely damaged, while others only suffered broken windows. The report is summarizing the damages found in each hotel as the information comes in. Havana Times

Decaying buildings, slow assistance: More than a dozen people are still living in the elegant old building where two brothers died when one its floors collapsed on top of them during Hurricane Irma. Neighbors say they’ve been asking for repairs or relocation for a long time, but this time, no buses came around to evacuate them as usually happens during hurricanes. Members of the local chapter of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, the official neighborhood watch group that looks into security concerns, admits the buses never came, but says residents could have gone to the neighbors. The Cuban government did evacuate nearly one million people from areas deemed most at risk of Irma, but the story of this building is quickly becoming a symbol of life on the island. The Guardian

More reports of “sonic harassment attacks”: The U.S. State Department reported yesterday that two more American diplomats are believed to be victims of sonic attacks in Cuba. This brings to 21 the number of U.S. diplomats who have suffered hearing loss, mild traumatic brain injuries, and other neurological and physical ailments on the island since late 2016. The Trump administration has not blamed the Cuban government and Cuba has denied any involvement in these incidents. Washington Post



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