Monday, September 05, 2005

Cuban doctors on way to Louisiana

CNN has shown the arrival of Cuban doctors and relief workers in Miami, on their way to Louisiana. The first contingent of 200 doctors are headed for Baton Rouge, which will be their base of operations for New Orleans and for Biloxi, Mississippi. Up to 1300 more Cuban doctors are expected to arrive in the next several days. In Havana, President Fidel Castro said he welcomed President Bush's decision to accept Cuba's offer of medical aid. "I hope this signals a change of attitude toward Cuba in Washington, and the beginning of a new era in Cuba-US relations. For our part, we are willing to go the extra mile to mend fences." In Washington a White House spokesman cautioned against reading too much into the decision to allow entry to the Cubans, but emphasized that President Bush was determined to put political differences with Cuba aside in the interest of helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina. "He feels it would be mean-spirited to do otherwise." At the same time, the National Weather Service announced that hell has just frozen over, bringing relief from the sweltering conditions along the Gulf coast. President Bush said he's looking forward to doing some cross-country skiing this week at his ranch in Texas and is inviting Cindy Sheehan to accompany him.

Would I lie to you? In fact, President Castro has repeated his offer of medical aid to the United States. He said that Cuba has more than 130,000 health-care professionals and that more than 25,000 of them are on international missions in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. But the Bush administration is hardly likely to accept Fidel's offer. What an embarrassment to be bailed out of an emergency by the little socialist island of Cuba, after decades of trying to crush it! In the run-up to the Iraq war, the US administration accused Cuba of developing biological-weapons technology that could be shared with states hostile to the US. There seems to have been even less to back this charge than the one about WMD in Iraq. Is there a pattern here? Well, at least there's not much threat that sick and destitute Americans will be exposed to the dangers of socialized medicine.

Sept. 6: Not everyone is as keen as the Cubans to aid the US.

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