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Sunday, June 03, 2007


 

Hurricane preparation


I've compared and contrasted Cuba's preparations (and execution of plans) for hurricanes (even a year before Katrina brought the subject to the fore) with the U.S. response to Katrina (and others), and also discussed Cuba's offer of doctors to the U.S. immediately after Katrina hit (before George Bush had even returned from vacation!), several times before. Here's link to a very interesting article from today's New Orleans Times-Picayune about a hurricane preparedness conference just held in Monterrey, Mexico, that discussed those subjects and more. Here's the first paragraph, relevant to those of us with animals who know about the horrendous situation which affected animals after Katrina (in addition, obviously, to the situation of people):
Since Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana has awakened to the importance of developing evacuation plans that take pets into account. Cuba builds an extra measure into the island's emergency planning: Not only are pets sheltered in the face of an approaching storm, provision also is made for packing up and moving refrigerators, televisions and other hard-won possessions.
And what international event wouldn't be complete without the Bush administration playing politics:
At the last minute, Washington injected a Cold-War touch by canceling permission for U.S. hurricane specialist Lixion Avila, a federal employee, to participate. Avila had flown from Miami to Dallas and was waiting for a connecting flight to Monterrey when State Department officials ordered him back to Miami.

"They told me the meeting was too political," Avila said in an e-mail message to The Times-Picayune. "They gave me no more information. I had to return, unfortunately."

State Department officials were unable to explain the reason for the order, other than to point to policy statements posted on the agency's Web site.
The very location of the conference (in Mexico) is a result of U.S. policies which long predate the Bush administration, however:
The location was chosen as a way around severe restrictions imposed by Havana and Washington on official exchanges between the two countries.

Rubiera confirmed that...Cuban meteorologists have had a difficult time attending some international hurricane conferences or other scientific meetings in the United States because of U.S. restrictions.
There's one misstatement in that last section. Those "severe restrictions" are imposed by Washington, not by "Havana and Washington." It's the U.S. which keeps Cuban scientists out of the U.S., not vice-versa. Indeed, Cuba goes even further than allowing American scientists in (at least the rare ones who can get a visa from the U.S. government), as the article reveals:
Cuba also allows flights of hurricane chase planes over the island, although it requires advance clearance of flight paths through its diplomatic service for each trip made by the Air National Guard planes that do much of the flying.


Why stop here? There's more...

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