Friday, April 27, 2007

Charity workers

The recent visit to Havana by the governor of the American state of Idaho, the wonderfully-named Butch Otter, continues to make news locally.

According to The Idaho Press, among the 30 or so farmers and food exporters eager to do deals with the dictatorship, the Governor’s entourage also included a charity worker.

Her name is Liz Murtland, who runs Hands of Hope Northwest, Inc, described as “a faith-based organisation” that donates needed medical supplies to poor nations across the world.

It seems Ms Murtland had medical supplies worth USD1,800 ready to take with her to donate to a clinic in Havana but soon discovered that she was only allowed to take supplies worth USD200.

The US embargo got in the way, you see.

As the paper so succinctly put it, the question of Americans trading with Cuba is difficult “even when it’s for charity”. Nasty Americans.

Still, I can’t imagine those charitable guys in Havana will be too upset by the article in The Idaho Press, which states boldly that “Cubans are proud of their universal health care system” and that “Cuban doctors work in developing countries across the world”.

As for the obviously well-meaning Ms Murtland, she said she appreciated the time Cuban medical officials spent with the Idaho delegation but “she still has some questions about the level of care provided in Cuba”.


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