Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Ideology Trumps Need

Remember the biblical story of the good samaritan? It concerns a foreigner coming to the aid of an injured individual while his countrymen turn a blind eye. For me, the message of the story is that help and assistance can sometimes come from people you least expect. Places like Cubans, Venezuelans or even Iranians!

While federal officials have seemed lost in their response to Hurricane Katrina, nations from around the world have offered various forms of aid. The country that could have aided us the most in the first few critical days was Cuba. They offered to send doctors and supplies on their own dime. If given the okay, they could have arrived in the Gulf states in a matter of hours! They could have helped local officials save lives!!

Unfortunately, ideology trumps need in Washington, D.C. Cuba's offer was turned down by an eerie silence. Here we could have had doctors and supplies in the field -- during a period that FEMA seemed frozen -- but it was not to be.

Read an excerpt from the story for yourself from Ekklesia:
Axis of evil offers to come to America's rescue -05/09/05

As the US federal government continues to struggle in its efforts to respond to the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, offers of help from around the world are pouring in - not just from the UN and the European Union, but even from countries at loggerheads with President Bush or castigated by him as part of an "axis of evil" in the world.

Last Thursday the Cuban national assembly held a minute's silence for Katrina victims. President Castro has offered to send 1,100 doctors to Houston, Texas, together with 26 tonnes of medical equipment. Cuban churches have also offered to help.

But despite two communiques, the US administration, under fire from black church and community leaders for its handling of the hurricane crisis, has so far declined to respond. The two countries have not had diplomatic relations for over 40 years and the US government has recently tightened trade and travel restrictions, against requests from US churches.

Iran, another "axis of evil" nation, has offered aid through the Red Crescent organisation, a Muslim relief agency. Hamid Reza Asefi, from the Iranian foreign ministry, said that there was genuine concern for the plight of affected communities.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, recently the subject of an assassination call by renegade US evangelist Pat Robertson, also pledged cheap fuel, humanitarian supplies and relief workers.

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