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To: Samantha Power, Director of USAID

Help Matanzas Recover

Help Matanzas Recover

Our government needs to respond with generosity to the aftermath and environmental degradation of deadly oil fires in Matanzas, Cuba. It should fund US NGOs and businesses to assist clean-up and salvage of the storage area and support rehabilitation of the national electrical system. The Biden Administration should also remove sanctions that frustrate Cuba's purchase of replacement oil.

We share your warmly received words as Ambassador to the United Nations in 2016, "the United States and Cuba must continue to find ways to engage, even as our differences persist ".

Why is this important?

When deadly fires raged in Cuba's primary oil storage tanks in Matanzas August 5-12, US agencies failed to provide or fund immediate material help and personnel to extinguish them, despite our special capability and respected history of international disaster assistance.

Prompt action could have saved lives and prevented the fire destroying two additional storage tanks. To compensate for its failure, the US should take the generous and humane step of providing assistance now to address the fire's aftermath, including further deterioration in Cuba's electrical generation and distribution system.

USAID's website reports, "The Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) is responsible for leading and coordinating the U.S. government’s response to disasters overseas. OFDA responds to an average of 65 disasters in more than 50 countries every year."

Director Samantha Power is well positioned to lead such an effort as shown by her groundbreaking speech to the UN General Assembly, full text here https://tinyurl.com/PowerUN

Resources

* Letter from FFRD to USAID https://cubapeopletopeople.blogspot.com/2022/08/letter-to-usaid.html

* "Cuba’s enormous blaze fuels fears of instability even as flames are doused" by Ed Augustin https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/aug/10/cuba-fire-government-power-cuts

* "Did U.S.-Cuba dysfunction prevent a quicker end to the Matanzas oil fire disaster?" by Tim Padgett https://www.wlrn.org/news/2022-08-19/did-u-s-cuba-dysfunction-prevent-a-quicker-end-to-the-matanzas-oil-fire-disaster

Encouraging signs of progress:

* https://www.voanews.com/a/cuba-asks-us-for-technical-help-to-clean-up-oil-depot-after-fire-/6718986.html

* https://cubaminrex.cu/es/especialistas-de-eeuu-y-cuba-intercambian-sobre-experiencias-en-tareas-de-saneamiento-y

Note the symbolism of the Cuban and US flags flying together.

How it will be delivered

By e mail with the list of signers as posted on the blog of "Cuba US People to People Partnership"

Updates

2022-08-23 16:57:27 -0400

100 signatures reached

2022-08-23 12:28:04 -0400

50 signatures reached

2022-08-23 11:56:16 -0400

25 signatures reached

2022-08-23 11:45:08 -0400

10 signatures reached