HAVANA — Cuban President Raul Castro sent his condolences to Haiti’s President Rene Preval after a major 7.0 earthquake on Tuesday caused devastation and widespread loss of lives in Port au Prince. Castro promised the “unselfish” help of the Cuban people in these difficult moments.
Cuban families back home were relieved to learn that all the 152 Cuban medical and education personnel working in the Haitian capital were reported to be in good health. Two suffered minor injuries during the quake on late Tuesday afternoon.
The island’s media reported that “The Cuban medical brigade providing services in Port-au-Prince has already established a new hospital camp next to the one that was brought down by the earthquake.”
By Wednesday morning, “more than 800 patients had already been provided medical care including some operations.”
The TV news reported that an additional medical brigade from Cuba will arrive soon in Haiti, equipped with the medicines, clothes, food, saline solution and plasma bags needed for such emergency situations.
Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said Wednesday helping Haiti was a priority for Cuba “following a devastating earthquake that caused huge human and material loss in that country.”
The Cuban government sent to Haiti the first contingent of doctors from the Henry Reeve Medical Brigade that specializes in assisting after natural disasters and serious epidemics.
The brigade was first established to offer help to the United States when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, an offer rejected by ex-President Bush.
Since then the brigade has been on the scene after earthquakes in Pakistan, and China, the Tsunami in Indonesia and major flooding in Guatemala and Bolivia.
Cuba already had 344 doctors and other health professionals working full time in Haiti under an agreement with the Haitian government.
Victor Geneus, Haiti’s ambassador to Havana, thanked the Cuban people and government for their assistance in such difficult times. “The Cuban doctors have a lot of experience with our reality and a lot of desire to understand and help, and that’s what we most needed,” Geneus told the Cuban News Agency.
Note: this article was first published in Havana Times.
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