News Release

Cuba “Perfected the Art of Hurricane Preparedness”

The Washington Post reports: “Hurricane Irma is an ‘extremely dangerous’ Category 5, barreling toward the northern Lesser Antilles and Southern Florida. It’s already the strongest hurricane ever recorded outside the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s likely to make landfall somewhere in Florida over the weekend.

“The storm is life-threatening for the United States, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and the southeastern Bahamas.”

The following analysts can talk specifically about Cuba’s noted hurricane preparedness:

MARGUERITE JIMENEZ, mjimenez at wola.org
Jimenez is senior associate for Cuba at the Washington Office on Latin America.

WILLIAM LeoGRANDE, wleogra at american.edu, @wmleogrande
LeoGrande is professor of government at American University. He said today: “Cuba has perfected the art of hurricane preparedness by mobilizing local neighborhood organizations and the military to evacuate not only residents in the path of ongoing storms but their pets and their most prized possessions. As a result, Cuba rarely experiences serious loss of life. In 2016, when Hurricane Matthew hit western Haiti and eastern Cuba almost simultaneously as a category 4 storm, it took the lives of over 1,000 Haitians but just four Cubans, even though property damage in Cuba was half a billion dollars greater.”

LeoGrande’s books include Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977 – 1992. Most recently, he is co-author of Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana.

Producers may want to use Jackson Browne’s “Going Down to Cuba” as lead-in music, which has the line “They might not know the things you and I know / They do know what to do in a hurricane.”