[OPE-L] how cuba does it

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Thu Sep 01 2005 - 23:22:03 EDT

Note:  Ned Sublette is the co-founder and president of Qbadisc and
former host of Afro-pop worldwide and for a long time was senior
producer for Afro-pop Worldwide.  --Cris

Subject: FW: how cuba does it
Date: Thu, 1 Sep 2005 19:58:12 -0600

This was sent by Ned Sublette this evening (Thursday, September 1).

i just spoke to nelson valdes, a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about
cuba, and asked him how civil defense is conducted in cuba.  he ticked it
off while i listened with my left hand and typed with my right.  here are
the notes i took:

* * *

less than 2 months ago, cuba was able to move 1.7 people on short notice.

the whole civil defense is embedded in the community to begin with.  people
know ahead of time where they are to go.

they come to your door and knock, and tell you, evacuation is coming, then
they come and tell you, now.

if no electricity, they have runners who communicate from a headquarters to
central locations what is to be done.

the country's leaders go on TV and take charge.  but not only the leaders
are speaking.  the TV weatherpeople are knowledgeable.  and the population
is well educated about hurricanes.

they not only evacuate.  it's arranged beforehand where they will go, who
has family where.  not only pickup is organized, delivery of people is

merely sticking them in a stadium is unthinkable.  shelters all have medical
personnel, from the neighborhood.  they have family doctors in cuba (!), who
evacuate together with the neighborhood, and already know who, for example,
needs insulin.

if they evacuate to a countryside high school -- a last resort -- they have
dormitories there.

they also have veterinarians and they evacuate animals.  they begin
evacuating immediately, and also evacuate TV sets and refrigerators, so that
people aren't relucatant to leave because people might steal their stuff.

it's not throwing money at the problem.  it's not financial capital, it's
social capital.
the u.s. in this sense has zero social capital.

dealing with hurricanes in cuba, as compared with how it's done in the u.s.,
is similar to the differences in how they deal with medicine.  it's not
reactive; it's proactive.  they act as early as possible.  the u.s. doesn't
have civil defense, it has civil *reaction.*

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