The following was submitted to the Journal Argus under the heading “Disappointed in the Cuban government; heartbroken for the people.”
An open letter to Canadians:
I am a Canadian citizen of Cuban nationality. I have just returned from my homeland after Hurricane Sandy, and I would like to make Canadians aware of the situation that Cubans are facing today.
I believe that the death toll that they have reported is considerably lower than the actual number of lives lost. Not included in the number are people who lost their lives due to heart attack, stroke and now cholera, which is threatening the lives of many more. Even the Cuban people are not aware of the extent of the impending loss of life due to cholera.
Food is in very short supply.
With the help of St. Marys citizens, I decided to go to my homeland to take food and medicines to help people in my neighbourhood. Upon arrival in Holguin Airport carrying the maximum weight, border security charged me $200 or I would have had to leave it with them. I explained to them that the airline, which was Air Canada, allows 94 pounds total, but the Cuban border guards told me that, as a Cuban national, could only take 64 pounds of weight.
Well, I paid to make sure that people in my neighbourhood get some help. I consider that the $200 went to the border guards’ packets. That’s how corrupt they are.
On my way back to Canada, I had all my papers in order, including a visa that is only for Cuban nationals, which I presented when I checked in upon going through immigration. I was asked for the visa and I couldn’t find it. So they told me, because I lost the paper, that could cause me problems in the future travelling to Cuba. But the border security guard told me he could help me if I give him $10 to delete my name from the computer. I decided not to because, I believe, they play that game to get money out of us Cuban nationals. I must tell you that I wasn’t the only one.
Cubans are not receiving the donations intended to help relieve their situations. Perhaps they are going to the army, perhaps it is going to Mars. The people are not receiving the aid that has been sent from other countries, as well as Canada.
In my opinion, the Cuban government has made SOME of this aid available FOR SALE in local stores at an inflated price. How can Cubans buy construction materials at $12 when some of them only make $7 a month? Does this not defeat the purpose of humanitarian aid?
I would like to thank all the Canadian citizens who made the purpose of my trip come true. Special thanks to Celine Laviolette and Roy Maynard, Marty Fitzsimmons and Alexis, Freddy and Rhonda Delong, George Aitcheson, Jean and Ken Aitcheson, Carey Pope, Mike Evans and many more.
Proud to be a Canadian citizen,
Nelly Cabello, St. Marys