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Cablegate: Cuban Assistance to Haiti Post Earthquake

VZCZCXRO2888
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHUB #0042/01 0201202
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201202Z JAN 10
FM USINT HAVANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5116
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCOGCA/COMNAVBASE GUANTANAMO BAY CU PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUCOWCV/CCGDSEVEN MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCE/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HAVANA 000042

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CCA AND WHA/PD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF EAID PREL CU HA
SUBJECT: CUBAN ASSISTANCE TO HAITI POST EARTHQUAKE

REF: HAVANA 11 (CLIMATE CHANGE DISTRACTION)

HAVANA 00000042 001.3 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Cuban assistance to Haiti after the
earthquake consists primarily of mobilizing doctors and
nurses already in country, supplemented by teams of Cuban
doctors who specialize in emergency medical assistance. Cuba
is also transporting Haitian doctors who studied in Cuba and
Haitian medical students still training in Cuba back to Haiti
to assist in the medical response. The Government of Cuba
granted a U.S. request for overflight permission to assist
with medical evacuations, and has publicly indicated a
willingness to cooperate further as needed. END SUMMARY

CUBAN AND CUBAN-TRAINED DOCTORS
-------------------------------

2. (U) Cuba's immediate response to the January 12 earthquake
was to point to the 403 total Cuban "collaborators" already
in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, 344 of which are
doctors and nurses working as part of Cuba's medical
diplomacy efforts. Most of the Cuban health professionals
already in Haiti specialize in primary care or ophthalmology.
Over the course of the next few days, Cuba sent 60 more
doctors as part of Cuba's "Henry Reeve Contingent of Doctors
Specialized in Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics"
(Note: the Henry Reeve brigades were established in September
2005 as part of the GOC's offer of medical assistance to the
United States following Hurricane Katrina. End Note.)

3. (U) The GOC has arranged for the return of 32 Haitians
who graduated from the Cuban Medical School in Santiago de
Cuba and is in the process of sending several more teams of
Haitian medical students currently training in Cuba back to
Haiti. The Cuban press notes that nearly 500 Haitians have
graduated from Cuban medical schools. The Cuban press has
also reported the delivery of at least 10 tons of medical
supplies to Haiti, including medicines, food, serums, and
plasma.

4. (U) The Cuban doctors and nurses are concentrated in four
Haitian field hospitals located in or next to: 1) Ofatma, a
facility within the Military Hospital facilities; 2)
Renaissance Ophthalmology Center, a facility used for the
joint Cuban-Venezuelan eye-surgery program Operation Miracle;
3) The Peace University Hospital (also called Delmas 33); and
a facility in Leogane. Cuban doctors are also providing
emergency services in the neighboring departments of Aquin,
Mirebalais, Grand Goave, Anse-a-Veu and Raboteau.

WORKING WITH THE USG
--------------------

5. (SBU) On February 13, the GOC granted overflight
authorization for U.S. planes to carry out medical
evacuations from Haiti in accordance with a 2005 bilateral
agreement. On January 15, North America Director in the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Josefina Vidal told the press
that Cuba "is disposed to cooperate with every country
operating in Haiti, including the United States, to help the
Haitian people and save lives." Similar remarks were also
made at the United Nations.

PRESS COVERAGE AND COMMENTS ON U.S. ASSISTANCE TO HAITI
--------------------------------------------- ----------

6. (U) The earthquake continues to dominate the local Cuban
press with mostly factual reporting from Haiti, including
initial plans for U.S. assistance. Over the weekend, the
press started quoting complaints from France, Brazil,
Nicaragua, and CARICOM regarding the "arbitrary handling by
the United States of the Haitian airport, denying on repeated
occasions landing permission to aid flights." An "opinion"
article on January 18 criticized President Obama's
appointment of former president George W. Bush to co-direct
an aid fund for Haiti as "cynicism without limit." Communist
Party leader and former president Fidel Castro has written
two reflections on Haiti highlighting Cuban assistance and
linking the earthquake to climate change and the "mockery,
scorn and deception in Copenhagen" (reftel).


HAVANA 00000042 002.3 OF 002


CUBANS AFFECTED
---------------

7. (U) Shortly after the earthquake, Cuba issued a tsunami
watch and evacuated more than 30,000 people from the eastern
city of Baracoa "within hours." Despite the proximity, Cuba
did not feel the earthquake or any of the aftershocks. The
GOC has reported no deaths and three injuries suffered by
Cubans in Haiti, including one student who remains in
critical condition after being evacuated to a hospital in
Santiago de Cuba.
BARCLAY

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