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“Aid” from Self-Serving Autocrats

At last count more than 70 countries around the world have offered assistance to the United States to aid recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Most is heartfelt and comes from longtime allies and countries that have received U.S. assistance in their moments of need. But that is not true in every case–for example, Cuba and Venezuela.

According to the news, Australia pledged $7.5 million to the American Red Cross. China promised $5 million. France offered 600 tents, 1,000 cots, 60 generators, diesel pumps, and water treatment stations. Mexico is sending 15 truckloads of food, water, and medical supplies as well as naval ships and helicopters. Even El Salvador–past victim of earthquakes, hurricanes, and war–pledged troops to aid police patrols.

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro offered a thousand doctors and 26 tons of medicine while Venezuela’s autocratic leader Hugo Ch