IMF refuses Barbuda debt relief after hurricane devastation, Cuba dispatches medical staff across Caribbean

September 11, 2017
Barbuda after Hurricane Irma hit. Cuba has dispatched a medical brigade to to the devastated island and Venezuela is airlifting over 10 tons of supplies as well as rescue personnel.

As Barbuda, part of the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, reels from having almost the entirety of its infrastructure and 95% of its homes destroyed due to Hurricane Irma, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has rejected a moratorium proposal to discuss the island's US$3 million dollar debt.

The IMF's refusal to even converse about funds owed by the tiny Caribbean island was made clear by Christopher Lane, the financial institution's special representative to the United Nations, according to Courthouse News. “Our general view is that we'd rather put new money in than to have a moratorium,” Lane said.

Speaking in a conference room situated in the basement of the U.N.'s Secretariat Building, Lane further exemplified the IMF's position by stating that the institution may borrow funds from the United States and loan them to Antigua.

"If we don't get paid back on time, we'd have to make an arrangement with the source of the funds themselves. It gets a bit arcane, but there's a number of constraints on how we operate," Lane added. "We're like a bank. We borrow and lend."

Antigua was spared from Hurricane Irma's devastating and deadly churn, but the eye of the storm passed directly over Barbuda. Prime Minister Gaston Browne characterised the storm as landing like a “bomb” over Barbuda.

The IMF may be unmoved to forgive, or even discuss, the terms of Barbuda's debt, but Cuba has dispatched a medical brigade and Venezuela is airlifting over 10 tons of supplies as well as rescue personnel to the ravished island.

More than 750 Cuban physicians have been dispatched to several Caribbean islands in the wake of Hurricane Irma's destruction. 

They will maintain daily communication with Havana in order to stay informed about unfolding events, said Dr. Regla Angulo Pardo, director of Cuba’s Central Unit of Medical Cooperation.

She noted that Cuba has sent medical brigades to six of the countries in the subregion that, in recent days, have been or will be in the the tropical storm's orbit. Those islands include Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Bahamas, Dominica and Haiti.

In Haiti, heavy rains forced nine of 23 total collaborators to evacuate their locations. However, the remaining medical staff are assisting local health authorities and serving residents.

Pardo emphasised that in Barbuda, Cuba's 43 physicians weathered the storm unscathed and have joined recovery efforts.

[Compiled from TeleSUR English.]

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