From my friend Grete Viddal who has worked closely with Santiago’s Casa del Caribe:
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Hurricane Sandy wrecked havoc in many locales, but the city of Santiago de
Cuba was particularly hard hit. The storm unexpectedly veered course during
the evening of October 25th and slammed into the coast of eastern Cuba,
causing damage in several provinces. Santiago de Cuba, the island¹s second
largest city with a population of around 440,000, suffered horrific
destruction. Virtually no structure in the city escaped unscathed. It is
estimated that over 130, 000 buildings were damaged. Around 15,000 homes and
structures were completely demolished by hurricane Sandy, the city was
virtually denuded of trees, and many residents were without electricity or
water for over two weeks.
I lived in Santiago between 2008 and 2010, conducting field research for my
doctoral dissertation about the influence of early twentieth century
migrants from neighboring Haiti on identity and society in eastern Cuba. The
wonderfully active and intrepid Casa del Caribe‹Santiago¹s premier cultural
research institution‹sponsored my studies, and I maintain close ties with
friends and colleagues there. The Casa organizes the annual Festival de
Caribe as well as other colloquiums, performances, festivals, and events,
and its wonderful museum and library have been an important resource for
scholars and students in the region.
In a telephone conversation with Orlando Verges, the Casa¹s director, I
asked him to enumerate the most pressing needs. He explained that aside from
severe damage to the Casa del Caribe¹s two buildings, many scholars, staff,
and performers who collaborate with the institution suffered roof damage or
lost their homes completely, including the librarian, the co-editor of the
institution¹s journal, and several associated researchers and performers.
Computers, furniture, windows and infrastructure were also wrecked.
I am starting a relief fund to help in the reconstruction of the Casa del
Caribe¹s buildings and to assist the people who work for the institution.
The director and staff of the Casa will help me ensure that all funds raised
are spent where they are most urgently needed, and I will supervise the
delivery of all monies. The institution itself, per local regulation, cannot
solicit funds, but it can accept donations gathered by friends and
To donate to the project, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attached are recent photos of the damage to the Casa del
Thank you so much for your help!
Department of African and African American Studies