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PBS | How to help victims of Hurricane Ian in Cuba

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  • January 19, 2023

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How to help victims of Hurricane Ian in Cuba

In the week since Hurricane Ian made landfall in Cuba, leveling buildings and knocking out the island’s electrical grid, protests have erupted in the streets over lingering power outages, resulting in food spoilage and further civil unrest.

Ricardo Torres Pérez, a Cuban-born economist and faculty fellow at American University, said the Category 3 hurricane that tore through the island’s western region has been a crushing blow to an already struggling economy.

“This is a tragedy for thousands of Cubans. There’s no way to underestimate this,” Torres Pérez said. “It’s not catastrophic because it’s not the entire country, but it’s a severe impact on the very weak economy.”

Tobacco production, in particular, has come to a grinding halt in the Pinar del Río province, according to Torres Pérez.

“It’s an industry that was already having troubles,” he said. “All of the infrastructure associated with the industry is gone, so they have to start from scratch. That’s a major impact and will be felt this and next year in terms of those revenues.”

Michael Doering, the Latin America liaison at World Help, went to Cuba to meet with the Christian humanitarian organization’s network of congregations and house churches, numbering in the thousands islandwide.

“The stories that I was hearing were just disastrous,” Doering said. “Basically entire villages that were destroyed, and none of the crops survived. There’s really no other way to describe it.”

Delivering disaster relief to the largest island in the Caribbean can be difficult in the face of sanctions, embargos and political tensions between the U.S. and Cuba. “…”

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