On Friday, August 5, a lightning strike on tank 51 of the Matanzas Supertanker Oil Storage Base caused a huge fire that spread to the four-fuel storage of one of its batteries, which caused an unprecedented disaster in Cuba.
While various countries such as Mexico and Venezuela were concretely assisting Cuba in overcoming the unprecedented disastrous fire which threatened to consume the Mantanzas oil storage facility, the United States cynically sat on its hands, and instead asked Havana to call them- Call me !
Mexico sent 16 flights with over 45,000 litres of foam and other equipment for fighting the raging inferno. The United States on the other hand, provided the tremendous contribution of a telephone number for Cuba to call for technical advice! Presumably, it was Cuba who had to cover the cost of the call.
Of course, the very generous offer of help is quite familiar to workers and the ever-growing impoverished masses in Canada and the United States, who when seeking relief from looming homelessness, hunger and general immiseration are told to call a number.
This invariably begins a soul crushing, spirit destroying and emotion shattering odyssey: A dead-end that leads to no relief, succour or refuge, in a dog-eat-dog society where everyone fends for themselves, so characteristic and defining of profit driven and capital centered societies.
Yes, “call me'' is a refrain that should resonate with so many. But unlike the promise of Blondie's 1980 song, no help will be arriving anytime soon. Here-in lies the rub, the clear connection between disfranchisement, austerity and marginalisation at home, and imperial plunder, exploitation, and war aboard.
While Washington may plead ignorance, saying Cuba (less than 100-miles away) never exactly stated what assistance it needed; What good neighbour stands idly by and watch the next door neighbour’s house catch on fire instead of immediately rushing to help?
But, of course, Cuba has stated time and time again exactly what is required from Washington: Remove Cuba from the arbitrary and unilateral U.S. State Department's State Sponsors of Terrorism list!
A list that makes it impossible for Cuba to obtain credits and loans from international financial institutions and economic assistance from other counties who fear U.S. reprisals and retaliations.
A list that Washington uses as justification to openly intimidate and sanction international entities that already have economic relations with Cuba, pressuring them to break those relations with the island nation.
End the criminal and internationally condemned economic war against Cuba, which is the principal obstacle to Cuba’s social and economic development, causing damage exceeding $100 billion!
Cease the relentless campaign of disinformation, aggression, and subversion of Cuba’s legitimate constitutional order! Call me, indeed! The ignominies of the empire are writ large and know no bounds.
*Isaac Saney is a Cuba specialist at Dalhousie University, Canada, and the author of Cuba: A Revolution In Motion and the forthcoming, Cuba, Africa, and Apartheid's End: Africa's Children Return. From 2008-2022, he served as co-chair and national spokesperson of the Canadian Network On Cuba, with which he now serves in an advisory capacity.
*Cheryl LaBash is co-chair of the National Network On Cuba in the United States and works in Washington, D.C. on national mobilization and legislative advocacy to end the U.S. economic, financial, and commercial blockade of Cuba, and writes on current Cuba related developments.