HAVANA – Spain made its first emergency donation Monday of 200,000 euros ($238,000) through the Cuban Red Cross to aid the island’s recovery following the devastation of Hurricane Irma, which left 10 people dead and incalculable damage on the island.
The Spanish ambassador to Havana, Juan Jose Buitrago, and the general coordinator in Cuba of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (Aecid), Jose Manuel Mariscal, met with the secretary general of the Cuban Red Cross, Luis Foyo, to learn the island’s most pressing needs.
“It was a hurricane that struck with devastating effects on the economy, on infrastructures and above all on the population, and Spain cannot be absent from the recovery and reconstruction efforts that the Cuban government is undertaking,” the Spanish ambassador told EFE.
He said the contribution of 200,000 euros worth of material to the Cuban Red Cross through its Spanish counterpart “does not exclude our studying other mechanisms that can be provided later to back up Cuba’s efforts.”
Following this donation, the provision of another 100,000 euros through the International Red Cross Federation will be studied.
“We’re simply passing along the solidarity that the Spanish people feel for the Cuban people,” the diplomat said, “because to a great extent we’re family.”
The Cuban Red Cross will be in charge of distributing the materials donated by Spain to the areas that most need them.
During a meeting with Red Cross officials, the ambassador asked what materials were needed most urgently on the island, and was told that mosquito nets, plastic sheets, tools and materials for rebuilding, water cans, and cooking and hygiene kits could be a useful part of the Spanish donation.
The devastating Hurricane Irma blasted along the north coast of Cuba between Sept. 8-10, causing 10 deaths and material damage to an extent not yet determined, but which included the total and partial destruction of thousands of homes, damage to crops and serious outages of the island’s power grid.
In Havana alone the hurricane affected 4,288 homes, of which 157 were totally obliterated and 986 were partially destroyed, according to official preliminary reports.