Ruled by a communist dictatorship, Caribbean country has been under US embargo since 1962
Destroyed area of the Cuban fuel depot that was engulfed in flames for five days after lightning struck one of its tanks
Several Democratic congressmen from United States asked the president Joe Biden that help Cuba after the fire in oil tanks and eliminate “any relevant sanctions” to speed up the response to the catastrophe. Gregory W. Meeks, Barbara Lee and Jim McGovern said in a statement that they are “deeply concerned about the humanitarian disaster” in Matanzas, a town 100 km from Havana and “less than 150 miles from our border,” which is less than 241 km away. “Crisis like this demand an urgent and important response from neighboring countries”, they declared. They urge the government to “immediately offer adequate assistance to facilitate international response efforts” following the explosions in four tanks with a capacity to store 50 million liters of fuel each, located at the Matanzas supertanker base in the west of the island.
Cuba, where there is a one-party system, the communist, is a sensitive issue in the domestic politics of the United States, which is home to an important community of Cuban exiles, especially in Florida. Biden promised to review the policy towards Cuba, under US embargo since 1962, when he took office in January 2021. However, he hardened his speech after the result of massive anti-government protests on the island in July of the same year. In May, Biden announced that he would lift some of the restrictions imposed on Cuba during his predecessor’s tenure, Donald Trumpto facilitate immigration procedures, money transfers and flights.
Lawmakers urge the president to go further and “suspend any relevant sanctions to accelerate” the response to the fire and provide the humanitarian aid “that the hundreds of Cuban citizens affected by this crisis, as well as the many more facing multiple crises, so badly need.” and cascading in Cuba”. They cited shortages of food, energy and medicine. They fear that the “recovery efforts needed in Matanzas will bring an already low-resource Cuba to the brink”. “Now is the time to put politics aside and prioritize humanitarian commitment, environmental protection and regional cooperation,” they concluded.
*With information from AFP