Cuba/USA Disaster Diplomacy
in association with
Cuba/USA Disaster Diplomacy
September 2000. As the article defining USA/Cuba disaster diplomacy, Michael H. Glantz publishes "Climate-Related Disaster Diplomacy: A US-Cuban Case Study". This paper discusses disaster diplomacy between the Cuba and the U.S.A. particularly for weather- and climate-related disasters. Full text (1,021 kb in PDF)
Terrorist attacks in the U.S.A. (11 September 2001)
Summary of Cuba's immediate reaction by the Council on Foreign Relations:
11 November 2001. Commentary by Ilan Kelman:
17 January 2002. Have the consequences of 11 September 2001 brought Havana and Washington closer together? BBC Analysis.
Hurricane Michelle (November 2001)
8 November 2001. After Hurricane Michelle, the U.S. offers aid to Cuba. BBC Coverage.
10 November 2001. From The Miami Herald by Tim Johnson.
11 November 2001. Commentary by Ilan Kelman:
12 November 2001. Commentary by George Kent:
17 November 2001. Castro Welcomes One-off US Trade. BBC Coverage.
16 December 2001. US Food Shipment Arrives in Cuba. BBC Coverage.
14 February 2002. An American agricultural delegation visits Cuba. Cuba to buy more American food. BBC Coverage--note that this article suggests the Cuba-USA business agreement dates back to 2000, well before Hurricane Michelle. If this statement is accurate, did the disaster provide the impetus to exercise the agreement in practice?
October 2003. Lino Naranjo Diaz writes Hurricane Early Warning in Cuba: An Uncommon Experience (27 kb in RTF which opens in Word) in which he states "Cubans have been forced to be more efficient in facing natural disasters in a scenario of political conflict with the US government. This is maybe an opposite view of the disaster diplomacy approach. Protective measures under a conflict are developed in such a way that the enemy would not be able to take advantages from the disaster." See the proposal for Mirror Disaster Diplomacy or Inverse Disaster Diplomacy for an expansion of this idea.
16 April 2004. Cuba buys over USD100 million worth of food from the USA. Again, this article states that such purchases have been permitted since 2000, before Hurricane Michelle. BBC Coverage.
7 May 2004. In what is likely election-year politics, American President Bush tightens restrictions on Cuba. BBC Coverage. Has Hurricane Michelle disaster diplomacy worn off--potential long-term international gains being supplanted by short-term domestic concerns--or did it never exist?
Hurricane Dennis (July 2005)
Despite an evacuation of 600,000 people from vulnerable coastal areas, sixteen fatalities occurred in Cuba when Hurricane Dennis swept over the island in July 2005. Washington offered aid. Havana thanked the American government for the gesture, but declined, instead opting to accept assistance from Venezuela. An opening for Washington-Havana rapprochement existed and Cuba snubbed it.
Hurricane Wilma (October 2005)
In October 2005, Hurricane Wilma breached Havana’s sea defenses and hundreds of people were rescued from the city. The U.S. State Department offered to send a three-person disaster assessment team and Cuba agreed. Castro later stated that the team would not assess damage and needs, but would discuss Caribbean disaster response coordination instead. The United States withdrew the offer.
2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season
Partlow, J. 2008. "Hurricanes Shift Debate On Embargo Against Cuba". Washington Post, Wednesday, September 24, 2008, Page A01.
A pair of devastating storms have prompted new calls for the United States to end its long isolation of Cuba, including from hard-line exile groups that are pushing for the Bush administration to loosen restrictions they had long favored...So far, though, the Cuban government has rejected the U.S. offer, preferring instead to rely on relief aid that arrives daily by the planeload from Russia and other more sympathetic countries.
The question of who should help the Cubans in times of need and to what degree has shaped Cuba's relationship with the United States for decades. The severe damage done by the storms appears now to be changing the debate. The hurricanes, which hit the island one after the other in just over a week, damaged an estimated 500,000 homes and ruined 30 percent of the nation's crops.
Four days after Gustav struck Cuba on Aug. 30, the U.S. government offered to send an assessment team to the island and $100,000 in emergency funding for humanitarian groups. The Cuban government has estimated that the damage from the two storms totals $5 billion, and it dismissed the offer as too paltry to be serious.
But on Sept. 13, six days after Hurricane Ike barreled into the island of 11.4 million people, the Bush administration raised its offer to $5 million, which U.S. officials called an unprecedented proposal of direct aid to the Cuban government. In the past, U.S. aid to the island has been channeled through nongovernmental relief organizations. The Bush administration has authorized an additional $8 million in private U.S. donations to be distributed in that way.
The Cuban government requested building materials instead of the blankets and "hygiene kits" the aid included, said José Cárdenas, the U.S. Agency for International Development's acting assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean.
"These people are in dire need," he said. "We certainly hope that they would just accept it and get this stuff to the people who need it."
In an attempt to fulfill the request for building materials, the U.S. government on Friday proposed sending 8,000 "shelter kits," which include zinc roof sheeting, lumber, tools and wire. Cárdenas said the value of the aid is $6.3 million. So far, the Cuban government has not responded.
But Fidel Castro, who because of illness handed over official power to Raúl in February but remains highly influential, has signaled that the Communist Party would reject the U.S. aid on principle.
Health Diplomacy for Cuba
For more general discussion, see also the specific webpage for Disease Diplomacy, which is a subset of Health Diplomacy.
Kelly, C. 2015 (January 16). Global Health Diplomacy: Cuba's Soft Power Foreign Policy. Master's dissertation for an M.A. International Relations, International Studies, Leiden University, the Netherlands.
Plahte, J. 2010 (January 6). Vaccine innovation for public health, or for profits - or for both? The Cuban biotech sector in a national and global context. PhD Dissertation, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
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