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Rosa Martinez: I am another Havana Times contributing writer, university professor and mother of two beautiful and spoiled girls, who are my greatest joy. My favorite passions are reading and to write and thanks to HT I’ve been able to satisfy the second. I hope my posts contribute towards a more inclusive and more just Cuba. I hope that someday I can show my face along with each of my posts, without the fear that they will call me a traitor, because I’m not one.

We’re OK, but Cuba’s Eastern Tip Has Massive Damage

October 5, 2016 |

Rosa Martínez

Foto desde Baracoa por Mike Theiss https://twitter.com/miketheiss

Foto desde Baracoa por Mike Theiss https://twitter.com/miketheiss

HAVANA TIMES — No one in Guantánamo slept a wink last night and I imagine it was the same story in Santiago and Holguin. These are the three easternmost provinces in Cuba, the ones that faced the greatest menace from the powerful Hurricane Matthew.  Though residents here have had little experience with phenomena of this great a magnitude, they do know well what it is to witness roofs flying, ocean waves surging several meters high, and rivers carrying everything off.

Each one of these territories have suffered at some moment from hurricanes that were less intense but equally destructive of the works of humans.  Those from Holguin still remember Hurricane Ike’s passing in 2008, the Santiago residents talk about the 2012 storm Sandy, and now we in Guantánamo can speak of the ferocious Matthew.

This time, the storm moved a little to the east before making landfall in Cuba, battering forcefully the eastern part of Guantánamo province.  It devastated Baracoa, Maisi and other areas, but in the western part of the province we only experienced some winds and a little rain.  Here, everything has returned to normal, but people are feeling very sad about the disaster in Baracoa.

Hundreds of people form Baracoa, Maisí and other territories to the east of Guantánamo have had their houses partially or completely destroyed.  Buildings considered strong have collapsed; the structures in front of the seawall in Baracoa lost their doors and windows.  State entities in Baracoa such as the La Rusa hotel, several schools, and the Primada Visión telephone center lost their roof covering.

Many other things in these zones have been affected, but the damages are still being assessed.  All communication has been lost in Maisí and I don’t know what the Cuban Air Force is waiting for in order to send a helicopter with a reporting team to get the news from this easternmost town in the country.

How long will take each one of those affected to recover their lost home, or replace the destroyed roof?  There are still a number of Santiago residents affected by Sandy four years previously who are still in temporary shelters.

It’s no secret to many how we live on the Island.  Even though the people are aware that the most sacred thing we have is our lives and we should be grateful to be safe, we also know that after the storm comes the calm.  This calm will be difficult to achieve for the families who lost everything, despite help from the State that will arrive despite the difficulties.

Given the situation, I would ask “Havana Times” readers to abstain from the usual talk: “If the Castro dictators, such and such;” “If the Cuban regime, so on and so forth;” or “If the destroyed homes were in bad shape it was because of the system.”  Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not the moment for that.

Those who were left without homes or without resources don’t need that now, but rather ideas ideas that could help them to move forward.

But more than economic aid, the inhabitants of Baracoa, Maisí and other affected areas need support, be it through the internet or over a telephone line, and that’s something we all can offer.

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  • Sebastien Carrillo

    Best way to have an impact as a foreigner is to go there and make tourism alive again. I will go to Oriente this winter. They need our support.

    • Griffin

      Most of your tourism dollars flows into the pockets of the regime, not to the Cuban people. The hotels, resorts, tour buses, rental cars, dollar stores and banks are all owned by the Cuban military.

      Tourism funds the dictatorship.

      • Cubakingone

        Most tourist workers do very well with tips. A decent house in Varadero now + CUC $ 40,000.00. Many former tourists support friends and family in Cuba.

        • Informed Consent

          WHT about everyone else…..you know 99% of the population?

          • oaguilar

            One person at the time, slow progress until the Castros are dead.

      • Sebastien Carrillo

        I am not going to hotels nor using tourists infrastructures. I sleep in casas particulares, use taxis particulares, eat in paladares in CUC or even MN, buy food to people around etc. Not all tourism benefits directly to government and there are a lot of ways to help people directly.

        Baracoa had a lot of tourists, most of them using casas particulares. These people need to come back and help the city to recover. I also have a friend in Cajobabo with a house close to the beach. Pretty sure he lost everything (except his family). Another one in San Antonio del Sur. What is happening to them is painful.

        However, even if there is a lot of suff that is wrong with the government, at least they care about the people and they ensured that everyone was safe by using the necessary means. Compared to the number of people who died in Haiti, Cuba has been doing well! (I am not saying that I endorse the government politics here).

        • Virginia Scheller

          I totally agree that we need to support the people as directly as possible. Go to Baracoa, stay in casas, etc. I spoke with my friend in Baracoa today and he said he has seen tourists on the streets. But he also had a cancellation at his casa from tourists who had booked to stay there. It all adds to the sadness….. I will be going in January.

      • Cubakingone

        Cuban Economy 101- Tourism provides money to purchase oil which is used by all Cubans.

    • Cubakingone

      God idea – take in lots of children’s clothes / shoes that are like new.

    • Charles Sheehan

      I just spent two weeks in Baracoa and am so saddened by these pictures. I was planning to return in December for a few months. I have a Cuban family that I am unable to communicate with. Very frustrating.

  • Cubakingone

    Florida may need Cuba’s help with Doctors and rescue teams Good read here :::
    http://6abc.com/weather/obama-declares-state-of-emergency-in-florida/1535886/

    • Informed Consent

      Hahaha….umder equiped doctors to the rescue….for dollars.

    • Moses Patterson

      Dream on….