Page 3 of 3   <      

Hurricanes Shift Debate On Embargo Against Cuba

A Cuban boy fills bags with rice in Los Palacios. A third of the island's crops and about 500,000 of its homes were ruined by the hurricanes that struck recently.
A Cuban boy fills bags with rice in Los Palacios. A third of the island's crops and about 500,000 of its homes were ruined by the hurricanes that struck recently. (By Javier Galeano -- Associated Press)

"How long can we wait for materials?" she said.

On the way west out of Havana, metal electricity towers, one after the other, lay on the ground, their cables slumped between them. Houses had been shorn of their corrugated roofs.

Here in Los Palacios, every house appeared to have sustained at least some damage. But the rebuilding effort, in comparison to the chaos of neighboring Haiti, has been orderly.

Rubble and debris have been swept into piles along every street. Several residents said the government had assessed the damage and outlined the building materials they were supposed to receive. Many people were living with friends and neighbors, had moved into public buildings or were constructing small wooden shacks in their yards until the supplies arrived.

"I have never seen a storm like this; it was terrible," said Mario de Jesús Fuentes Campos, a 55-year-old retiree who lost his roof and the big mango tree in the back yard.

His family went 15 days without electricity. Prices of gasoline and cooking oil have risen. The stores have shortages of rice, he said, and there is hardly any meat at the butcher's.

"We have no money now," said his mother, Encarnación Campos, 81, who has a son living in Riverside, Calif. "It's unfair the Cubans can't send help to their relatives in Cuba. I don't agree with these rules."


<          3

© 2008 The Washington Post Company