The article offers a criticism of the point of view that disaster programs in Cuba should be emulated by other countries, as well as that the removal of Mr. Castro from power will bring about a failed state system that will precipitate a complex humanitarian emergency in which the United States government would be coordinating the response of the international community. It outlines Cuba’s disaster practices, the possibility of famine, and non-governmental organizations working in Cuba as important harbingers of civil society.
THINGS THAT WORK AND NOT WORK IN DISASTER PROGRAMS
The Cuban state has a very effective system of social controls (Aguirre, 2002) that it uses to organize the behavior of masses of people in various efforts, to include, among others, conventionalized political rallies and other forms of collective behavior (Aguirre, 1984;), the structuring of mass migration (Aguirre, 1994; Aguirre, Saenz and James, 1997), the activities of education and other institutions (Aguirre and Vichot, 1998; Aguirre, 2002a; 2002b), and improving the health of the population through mass vaccination and other campaigns.
It should not be surprising that such a system of social organization and control is also very effective in providing certain types of disaster preparedness and response services to the population. Cuba’s disaster preparedness is centered on highly professionalized and effective meteorological services and warning systems (Lezcano, 1995; Sims and Vogelmann, 2002, 395-398), and on educational efforts that alert people of impending tropical storms and hurricanes and that tells them what to expect and what they should do in the short term to prepare for the impact of these hazards. The customary structuring of the lives of people through the activities of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution and other mass organizations of the state provide ready access for official disaster programs to the neighborhood, places of work, and other areas (Aguirre, 1984). This structuring at times of impending disasters facilitates the transmission to, and the knowledge by, threatened populations of the warnings and other protective instructions that are given by the authorities, as well as the enforcement of evacuation advisories. Evacuations are used very effectively by the Cuban state to move people from areas expected or exposed to high winds, flooding, and sea surges. Seldom such measures involve the forced movement of people, even though in Cuba the authorities have the right to compel evacuations, which is not the case in the United States and other countries.
Certain types of post-disaster response tasks such as the clearing of fallen trees obstructing roads, and the removal of other debris, are usually accomplished very promptly, as is the restoration of lifeline services of electricity, water, and other essentials to the population. These tasks involve the activation of people who are pressed into service or who volunteer, and the repositioning of resources that are usually already available to the various bureaucracies of the state.
Reconstruction efforts are usually quite efficient in the case of hospitals, schools, electric generating plants, and other critical facilities. Housing reconstruction however, is very deficient, and despite claims to the contrary, is not carried out in any systematic way (Kapur and Smith, 2002). The Cuban state has shown a long term and chronic inability to satisfy the demand for housing of the population and is also incapable of responding in a programmatic and satisfactory way to the destruction of the housing stock that at times is brought about by hurricanes and other storms. The majority of disaster victims whose houses are destroyed or seriously damaged are left to their own devices and the sporadic assistance from international humanitarian programs as well as the few non-governmental organizations operating in Cuba (see below).
There is hardly an awareness in the island, much less programs—with the possible exception of the project funded by the United Nations Development Program to protect, restore, and enhance Havana’s central district (La Habana Vieja)—of the need to respond to the problems and promises of long-term community recovery, which would involve the affected residents in the planning for and participation in the process of decision making and conflict resolution attending the long term re-building of communities and regions that would make them safer and more sustainable (Natural Hazards Research, n.d.). Nor are there disaster programs that mitigate the effects of hazards. Thus, there is the near absence in the record of land use planning, zoning, and building codes as mechanisms for the mitigation of the effects of disasters (Mileti, 1999, chapter 6; Twigg, 2004).
A good case in point comes from my hometown of Trinidad, in the south coast of central Cuba, in which the local architect attempted without success to curtail the access of tourist busses and tourists to the historic center of the old city on the grounds that the old buildings were being negatively impacted by the vibration of the heavy vehicles, and that the infrastructure of the city could not handle such a large influx of people. Such concerns were disregarded, and the government, in its rush to encourage tourism, now plans to build more hotels in the area to cater to the foreigners (for other examples of the absence of mitigation efforts to protect the environment see Portela and Aguirre, 2000).
Using the established approach in disaster studies to understand the various types of activities associated with sudden disasters, involving the well known concepts of disaster preparedness, response, reconstruction, recovery, and mitigation (Tierney, Lindell, and Perry, 2001), in relative terms, the Cuban state has a very poor record in the area of disaster reconstruction, recovery, and mitigation. Its record is much better when it comes to certain features of disaster preparedness and response, in which its control of the population is used much more effectively. It is in light of these findings about the society-disaster link in Cuba that recent efforts to portray Cuba as a model to emulate by the rest of the developing world lack validity.
MODEL TO EMULATE
Wisner (2001a; 2001b; see also http://online. northumbria.ac.uk/geography_research/radix/ cuba.html), recognizing the above-mentioned achievements, writes: “Cuba has lessons for the rest of us.” However, he does not mention the totalitarian social controls that make possible, to an undetermined extent, the effectiveness of these policies as well as the shortcomings I have indicated. One of a number of examples that document the sort of control that is exercised comes from a passing remark of a high official of the Cuban government in charge of disaster response, who indicated that whenever a hurricane threatens the country, “(t)he Civil Defense authority becomes the supreme authority in the province and all other institutions are subordinated to their direction” (Focus, 2002).
This sort of military control by the Civil Defense System, effective as it is (Alvarez, 2003), is inconceivable in pluralist societies with democratic political systems. The emphasis on political democracy, individual freedoms, devolution of political power to the community, commitment to social equality and justice, and the link that is made between poverty and disaster vulnerability in Mr. Wisner’s celebrated book At Risk (Blaikie et al., 1994) as well as in other of his writings, cannot be easily reconciled with the searing poverty, the growing and severe malnutrition of the people, and the intractable nature of the political dictatorship of Mr. Castro.
The claim that the Cuban model of disaster prevention is exportable ignores the fact that Cuba’s limited successes in protecting its citizenry from the immediate impact of sudden disasters occurs in the context of a political system that on other grounds aggravates the vulnerability of its population and that has been rejected by all of the other nations in Latin America at the present time. Still to be determined is the extent to which such programs correspond to integrated warning systems in use in non-totalitarian polities (Nigg, 1995), and what would need to change to make them work in these other contexts.
Advancing Mr. Wisner’s arguments, Thompson and Gaviria, from Oxfam America (2004), write about “the lessons in risk reduction from Cuba,” claiming that Cuba’s development model reduces risk and vulnerability because of its emphasis on universal access to services, policies to reduce social and economic disparities, investment in human development, government investment in infrastructure, and social and economic organization (p. 16). In their opinion, the most important part of disaster mitigation in Cuba is “the political commitment on the part of the government to safeguard human lives” (p. 22), which is said to create trust between the government and the people during times of emergencies (p. 27). These are rhetorical statements that are easily disproved and that, in the absence of empirical evidence and conceptual clarity, do not help elucidate the state of mitigation in Cuba.
They go on to praise the legal framework in which the National Civil Defense, part of Cuba’s military establishment, is a key player, without recognizing the grave practical limitations of civil defense national disaster programs that eventually were recognized in the United States, Australia, and other parts of the world, and resulted in their replacement by civil emergency management systems such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Haddow and Bullock, 2004; Drabek, 2003). They declare that in Cuba, there is universal access to government services, without commenting on or even recognizing the tremendous disparities in wealth that exist, the continuing racism (Aguirre and Bonilla Silva, 2002), and the impact of the new dollar economy on social stratification in the country. Finally, perhaps with fine irony (?), they write “there is no comprehensive substitute for reducing poverty and promoting social and economic equity as the fundamental long-term strategies to reduce vulnerabilities to hazards” (p. 53, emphasis in the original).
FAILED STATE SCENARIO
Perplexedly, just as the claims that Cuba represents a case for emulation is flawed, present day thinking in the U.S. federal government on the Cuba-disaster link is also off the mark, for it frames it in terms of the immediate repercussion of the passing of Mr. Castro from political leadership rather than on what works and does not work in Cuba today, why this is the case, and what can be done to strengthen Cuba’s disaster relevant policies and programs.
A prominent statement of present day thinking is the recently published proceedings of a seminar on “Humanitarian Aid for a Democratic Transition in Cuba,” organized by the Institute of Cuban and Cuban American Studies of the University of Miami with funding from the U. S. Agency for International Development. Writing in this proceeding of the seminar, Andrew S. Natsios (2004), Administrator of USAID, states that the transition to democracy in Cuba has the potential to eventuate into a “complex humanitarian emergency.” According to Mr. Natsios, there are three scenarios for the transition: a stable democratic transition government, an unstable democratic transition government, and an unstable failed state, with widespread violence, civil war, widespread human right abuses, economic collapse, and widespread famine. It is this failed state scenario that presumably will bring about the complex humanitarian emergency feared by Mr. Natsios. In this emergency, as reflected in the subject matter of the other presentations in the seminar, the problems of providing medical assistance, ensuring public health, providing for food security (particularly curtailing the impact of hunger on children and other vulnerable segments of the population), and the task of coordinating and directing humanitarian international assistance to the people of Cuba loom large.
While such worst-case thinking may have its place in hypothetical case study scenarios, in fact nothing in the contemporary history of Cuba lends credence to the failed state argument. The Cuban elite has been in firm control of the Cuban Communist Party, the Cuban Armed Forces, and all other major institutions of Cuba for many years now. It is a unified elite and it has prepared for the transition (Aguirre, 2002). It is highly unlikely that it will lose control at the critical time when the passing of Mr. Castro is certain to generate mass enthusiasms in South Florida and can precipitate aggressive posturing by the U.S. government. A fourth scenario, unacknowledged by Mr. Natsios, is much more likely, namely the continuation of the present day regime after the passing of Mr. Castro from power. Unfortunately, the implications of this fourth scenario for disaster preparedness and mitigation in Cuba have so far escaped the attention of Washington planners, who in my view should ask themselves what should be the policy of the United States if a catastrophe happens in the absence of political change. Lest we think this scenario farfetched, we should remind ourselves of the many millions that died in famines during the long-lasting dictatorships of Mao and Stalin.
As I have written elsewhere, it is not a political but an economic transition that is taking place in Cuba. Assuming as I do that the present day political system will go on after the passing from the scene of Mr. Castro, it is plausible to also assume that the principles established by the Cuban government at the present time for the handling of the demands created by disaster events will continue into the foreseeable future, and that the Cuban government will be involved in the structuring of humanitarian assistance as it has done until now (see below).
Years ago, the influential UNA-USA Policy Studies Panel on International Disaster Relief report (1977) on the global response to natural disasters argued that the three most serious political problems blocking effective use of foreign aid were: (1) the unwillingness of affected governments to acknowledge that disasters had occurred or recognize their full magnitude; (2) governments’ decisions regarding the distribution of disaster relief, which often was impacted by considerations other than the plight of disaster victims; and (3) withholding of aid to categories of victims and corruption in disaster relief operations. It argued that the most important problem faced by the international disaster relief system was the absence of appropriate counterpart government organizations capable of responding to the needs of disaster victims and channeling foreign relief aid.
Since the issuance of the mentioned report, much has changed and yet much remains the same. Instead of unwillingness to recognize disasters, nowadays the tendency of some governments is to use disaster events as triggers to access foreign aid that, once obtained, is often diverted from the original intention of donor countries and organizations. Most governments nowadays have emergency management institutions to handle foreign aid, but on average the effectiveness of such institutions is quite limited. Mulwanda’s (1993) description of Zambia’s lack of a national emergency and housing policy seems to correspond to the situation of most countries in Latin America; their reality is one of “disjointed incrementalism” in which “the countr(ies) are constantly involved in reacting to crisis situations with disjointed programmes whose methods and results are forgotten until the next crisis (p. 75).” Corruption continues, in part due to the absence of accountability (see for example Christie and Hanlon, 2001, 73-80; Tulchin and Espach, 2000).
The history of relations of the Cuban government to international humanitarian organizations does not reflect any of the problems identified in the UNAUSA Policy Studies Panel on International Disaster Relief Report, for the Cubans have developed their own distinctive approach to disaster aid. As far as I know, cases of corruption in disaster assistance programs have not surfaced. Contrary to many other governments, the Cuban government has not created an agency to handle all forms of foreign humanitarian assistance. Instead, it links donors to specific national government agencies in terms of the theme or topic that the donor agency or government is interested in sponsoring. The favorite donor actors from its perspective are departments or programs of the United Nation (e.g., U.N. Development Program; U.S. Funds for UNICEF), international organizations (e.g., Oxfam America; The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; World Food Program; CARE; Catholic Relief Service; Physicians for Peace; American Friends Service Committee; Church World Services; Global Links; Stop Hunger Now (Noon, 2001), and smaller, nonprofit humanitarian organizations (e.g., The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; The Cuban Aid Project of New Jersey) that are allowed into Cuba for specific purposes.1
Extensive government-specific programs of humanitarian assistance, such as the Canadian, have not operated for long in the island, for they fall victims to the vagaries of international political relations, and this sensitivity is particularly true with U.S. government’s offerings of humanitarian assistance, which most recently in the case of Hurricane Michelle was refused. It is also the case that in most instances of my knowledge, the Cuban government is willing to recognize both the full magnitude of sudden disasters as well as accept its responsibility to assist the victims of disasters (Oxfam, 2003), although it tries to structure the distribution of disaster and humanitarian assistance in such a way—for example its treatment of CARITAS—so as to dissimulate, if not misrepresent, the international source of aid, representing such assistance as its own.
Unless my assumption is wrong and there is a sudden change in the political system, it is reasonable to expect that these broad principles in the handling of disaster aid will continue into the foreseeable future.2 There will be no failed state, and the U.S. federal government will not be in charge of international humanitarian assistance to Cuba in the foreseeable future, say five to ten years after the removal of Mr. Castro from power. Very likely, it will have to come to some understanding with the Cuban government if it would wish to offer humanitarian assistance to the Cuban people in a major emergency, and it will have to contend with the likely collective action of Cubans in the United States trying to assist their kin and friends in Cuba.
Such emergency, in fact, may be at hand. While the occurrence of widespread political instability and violence in my view is very unlikely, one major slow onset catastrophe which is—as we have learned from Eastern Europe and Russia in the post-USSR period—the result of misguided development policy and the mismanagement of a centrally controlled economy, could in fact transform the situation drastically. I am referring to the impact of severe soil depletion and environmental collapse on agricultural productivity, which would precipitate widespread famine in the country and would necessitate a very different sort of international aid package, and depending on a number of factors, could in turn force important changes in the system (Driggs, 2003; San Martin, 2004).
The evidence for such a developing catastrophe is inconclusive, even if the piecemeal and incomplete information we have is very troubling (Ramos, 1997; Portela and Aguirre, 2000). The improvement of our knowledge base in this area is of great importance for the U.S. government if it wishes to come to some understanding of its likelihood. We need to have a much better sense of what is happening, perhaps in part derived from detailed scientific analyses using geographic information system platforms and existing high resolution remote sensing technology, to survey the entire country and quantify the present day state of Cuban agriculture. This or some other approach is needed, for until now, to borrow from “The Economist” (2002) in a recent analysis of the Cuban economy, “(f)ew people know the true figures for how bad things are, and those who do aren’t telling.”
What would happen in such a catastrophe? My sense is that it is already happening, albeit in small scale. Social change is messy, difficult to trace accurately, complex, multidimensional, often imperceptible. The key to the future is to be found in the possibilities of present solutions and failures; it is in the emergence of civil society as the mechanism that will bring about a more satisfactory approach to disaster preparedness, response, reconstruction, recovery, and mitigation. However, it is a civil society not as these social formations are understood in Europe, the United States, and other developed countries, but as it develops from the unique relationship of the Cuban people with the Cuban state.
At the present time, the most active units in this nascent civil society are the tentative, fragile, negotiated efforts of neighbors to solve their immediate problems and to negotiate with the government for access to resources or for its acquiescence in their search for resources from multiple sources, including non-governmental organizations and international donors. In the context of these grass root, very often-unorganized efforts, akin to local experiments, a clue to what is happening is presented in Minor Sinclair’s (2000) report, entitled NGOs in Cuba: Principles for Cooperation. Mr. Sinclair is Cuban Program Officer of Oxfam America. He points out that NGOs in Cuba are not substitutes or competitors of the state in the delivery of services, but instead engage the citizenry and the government in development. In Cuba, NGOs are not solving problems that the state abandoned, as in most other countries, but instead are trying to work with communities in supplementing the programs and policies of the state. They neither confront nor acquiesce to the government, but rather develop community programs that claim revolutionary values as their own, such as “social justice, compassion, solidarity, and participation” (p. 8), encouraging equity. NGOs work with the government and its ministries, rather than opposing or undermining it. From Mr. Sinclair’s perspective, NGOs in Cuba are “laboratories” in which new ideas and innovations are attempted, implement projects in communities that if successful can be replicated elsewhere in the country and at the national level, provide opportunities for participation of people in collective projects to benefit their communities, extend and strengthen government programs, and encourage and facilitate the self help efforts of committed participants.
Importantly for my purposes is the transformation mentioned in Mr. Sinclair’s report, brought about by NGOs, on the ability of Cubans to learn and borrow experiences and resources from other national experiences, including learning about funding strategies and donor priorities and policies, developing international relations and becoming part of international networks, and being able to travel and learn about the experiences of other people. As he states, to develop humanitarian assistance in Cuba, NGOs cannot be independent of the state or in opposition to it, as the U.S. State Department’s licensing now requires, but instead they must be partners to the state in improving the standard of living of the Cuban people. It is worthwhile to make a number of observations about the position outlined by Mr. Sinclair. Contrary to what he says, in the aftermath of the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the Cuban government has failed to provide essential services to the citizenry, and this failure creates the need for NGOs in Cuba. The government, however, insists in the fiction that is not failing, and Mr. Sinclair concedes the point for practical reasons. Mr. Sinclair’s position satisfies very few officials in positions of power outside Cuba, either in the European Union, Canada, or the United States. These governments have attempted to bring about the emergence of a pluralistic and democratic system in Cuba and have either disengaged from Cuba when they have failed to encourage such transition, as the case of the European Union and Canada (Canada International Development Agency, n.d.), or have supported the confrontational approach of political dissenters in the island. Neither approach has proven particularly helpful to the Cuban people. Instead, it is the rather ethically ambiguous approach of Mr. Sinclair that in fact may bring about social change in Cuba and that could provide mechanisms for the U.S. government to deliver humanitarian assistance in the case of a catastrophe. The position he sponsors is also unsatisfactory both to the hard line members of the Cuban elite as well as to important segments of public opinion among Cubans abroad opposed to Mr. Castro’s government.
For the first category of persons, the space he claims for NGOs goes against the grain of their state project, for instead of central planning and the primacy of the Cuban Communist Party, NGOs are living proof of state failure. Such space moreover provides organization and voice to the people, recognizing the autonomy and interest of their communities, and encouraging their democratic participation.
The Cuban elite’s deep distrust of NGOs and all other units of civil society find expression in Philip Agee’s essay (2003). Agee, an influential friend of the regime, writes that civil society is a ploy of the State Department in which “Cuba would be included in a new world wide program to finance and develop non governmental and voluntary organizations, what was to become known as civil society, within the context of U.S. global neo-liberal policies” (p. 5). He goes on to write, in truly Manichean and conspiratorial manner, that the CIA will use “these powerful elements of civil society to penetrate, divide, weaken, and destroy corresponding enemy organizations on the left, and indeed to impose regime change by toppling unwanted governments” (p. 6). He then documents how U.S. federal funding is being distributed to 12 NGOs that in turn give support to their representative groups in Cuba and help them spread their messages throughout the world, and uses this information to justify the recent repression of dissidents in the island as an act of self-preservation by the revolutionary government (for another description of the U.S. government program towards Cuba, see Ranneberger, 1998; USDS, 2002). It is unnecessary to comment on Mr. Agee’s self-serving interpretation of the recent wave of repression in Cuba. Rather, it shows the reasoning for the distrust of the NGOs by an important segment of the Cuban elite, even as the Cuban government uses NGOs as a label in its ever present propaganda campaigns, as shown in its thinly disguised attempts to portray its front organizations, such as the Center for the Study of Europe or The Cuban Institute for Friendship Between Peoples, as Cuban NGOs, which they are not.
For the second category of critics, segments of the Cuban community in exile, Mr. Sinclair’s approach smacks of collaboration with the sworn enemy. Illustrative of the controversies is the opposite reactions of two popular radio stations in Miami to the idea of sending donations to Cuba in the aftermath of a hurricane in 1996. WCMQ told its listeners to withhold donations, for they would only help Mr. Castro’s government, who would steal whatever they sent to assist the victims. The other, WQBA, stressed the suffering of family members and the need to help them during the disaster (García, 1996).
Despite, or perhaps because of, its ethical ambiguity, Mr. Sinclair’s approach, also used by CARITAS and other successful NGOs in Cuba, may be one of the only options available right now to help Cubans survive the present day crisis, and in the long term could facilitate the transition to democracy and the rule of law while safeguarding the hopes and values of the Cuban people. It could also be a way to strengthen in Cuba an international network of organizations that understand international humanitarian assistance work and that could provide continuity and effectiveness to international humanitarian aid efforts, including that of the U.S. government, in case of a catastrophe such as famine. Present day efforts by our government to strengthen civil society in Cuba reduce by and large to sponsoring NGOs outside of Cuba to assist groups in Cuba. These federal programs could be made much more effective if they would establish out reach programs to encourage much greater diversity in the organizations that receive federal aid, and if they would assist NGOs that cooperate with the Cuban government. For the U.S. government, the Cuba policy should be neither black nor white, but subtle tones of gray.
The Cuban state has a very poor record in the area of disaster reconstruction, recovery, and mitigation, although its record is much better when it comes to certain features of disaster preparedness and response. The claim that the rest of the developing world should emulate the Cuban model ignores its basis on the totalitarian social control of the population, a political system that also creates important vulnerabilities.
Similarly, a failed state framework of interpretation used to predict a complex humanitarian emergency and justify the centrality of the U.S. government in providing assistance to Cuba and structuring international humanitarian aid is equally unsound. Despite frequent claims to that effect, the scientific evidence for the likelihood of catastrophic famine in the nearterm is inconclusive, and this lack of information on Cuban agriculture should be remedied through the use of multiple methodologies, including expert opinion surveys and meetings of experts, and existing high resolution remote sensing technology to survey the entire country and quantify agricultural production.
If indeed a catastrophe happens, there will be an ongoing Cuban government dealing with it, and the best way for the U.S. and other governments wishing to give humanitarian assistance would be through the system of NGOs already established in Cuba that cooperate with the Cuban government in its assistance of the people of Cuba. This system could be used not only to deal with catastrophe but also to strengthen disaster programs in the island. It needs to be strengthened now to help it improve the conditions of people’s lives in Cuba.
1. Noon (n.d.; for a more recent list see Aristigueta, 2004) provides a very useful chart describing the international organizations that have projects in Cuba related to the following sector activities: agriculture and food security, business development and cooperatives, capacity building, political relations, disaster and emergency relief, education and training, environmental development, gender issues and women in development, health care, rural development, and water and sanitation. She lists five organizations as providing disaster related assistance: Church World Services, International Aid, Oxfam America, Stop Hunger Now, and U.S. Funds for UNICEF.
2. This description is derived in part from a close reading of material describing Hurricane Michelle of 2001, the most intense hurricane (class 4) to strike Cuba in more than half a century, forcing the evacuation of an estimated 700,000 people and damaging approximately 40,000 homes. Some of these articles are: Focus, June 2002, “What Can We Learn from Cuba About Disaster Prevention? An Interview with Gilberto Quevedo. Basin News, No. 23 (www.gtz.de/basin); Stephanie Kriner, 18 Dec. 2001. “November Storm Leaves Cuba Dependent on Outsiders,” Disaster Relief, Worldwide Disaster Aid and Information Via the Internet; Susan Kim, September 20, 2002. How Does Cuba Do It? (www.disasternews.net/news/news.php?articleid=1567); Christina Ward, November 5, 2001. “Hurricane Michelle Hits Cuba.” Disaster Relief, Worldwide Disaster Aid and Information Via the Internet (www.disasterrelief.org/Disasters/ 011104michelle5); Daniel Schweimler, November 12, 2001. “Hurricane Michelle: Assessing the Damage” BBC News; “Cuba and Hurricane Michelle,” EcoSur Disaster Prevention (www.ecosur.org/eng/desastres/cuba_michelle.php); “Hurricane Michelle Batters Cuba,” BBC News, November 5, 2001; U.S. Cuba Sister Cities Association, 9 November 2001. “Preliminary Report. United Nations Interagency Mission in Response to Hurricane Michelle’s Passing Through Cuba” (http://uscsca.org/unmichelle.htm); USCSCA, 9 November 2001. “Hurricane Assessment Team Going to Cuba, 11/27.” (http://uscsca.org/michelle.htm); Carlos Lage Dávila, “Cuba se recupera de los daños del huracán Michelle.” Agencia Informativa Latinoamericana Prensa Latina S.A. (www.prensa-latina.org); Susan Hurlich, Personal Testimony of Michelle’s Impact, 10/12, Havana. AfroCubaWeb; Oxfam News, December 4, 2001, “Hurricane Michelle Batters Cuba-Oxfam Response. (www.oxfam.ca/news/Hurricane_Michelle/facts.htm); Cristina Estrada, 16 November 2001, After Michelle-thousands still in Cuban shelters. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, (www.ifrc.org/ docs/news/01/11601); Xavier Castellanos, 23 September 2002, “Preparedness saves lives as hurricane hits Cuba” (www.ifrc.org/docs/ news/02/092302). I also consulted information available on Hurricanes Isidore and Lili during 2002.