Castro Sees Cuba’s Tourism Infrastructure Restored Quickly

September 11, 2017 | Print Print |

Destruction at the Jardines del Rey resort airport. Foto: granma.cu

HAVANA TIMES – Faced with the worst disaster in decades, Cuban President Raul Castro made a call Sunday for Cubans to maintain the faith in another victory after the powerful Hurricane Irma swept over a large portion of the country from east to west.

The general/president stated his confidence that the government with the support of the Communist Party’s mass organizations would rebuild the heavily damaged tourism infrastructure on the north coast in places like Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Santa Lucia and Varadero.

“They will be rebuilt before the start of the high season (December-April),” promised Castro, in an effort to put a positive spin on the events before the full damage report has been completed.

Most of the hotels are owned all or part by the Cuban army’s GAESA business group and are managed by foreign hotel chains. To date, virtually nothing has been reported as to what happened in the leading resort, Varadero, hit by the hurricane winds of Irma for several hours on Saturday and early Sunday.

Many flamingos in Cayo Coco couldn’t withstand the storm. Photo: granma.cu

Castro said on Saturday that restoring electricity to the many municipalities and work centers is the top immediate priority with brigades being formed on the local level to assist the electric company in their work.

One thing Castro didn’t mention is what will happen with the population and its housing. He only said that nobody would go unassisted, although there are thousands of families in shelters still waiting for a place to live from previous hurricanes and collapsing buildings.

Building materials had already been far under demand and now with a priority going to the State economic infrastructure, home building and restoration will most likely take a back seat. If the government didn’t have the resources to put a dent in the housing shortage before Irma, the situation now appears to be considerably worse.

The following is our translation of the complete statement issued late Sunday by Raul Castro.

A Call to Our Combative People

Let’s face this task of recovery with the Cuban Revolution’s Commander in Chief, Fidel Castro’s example. He taught us with his unwavering faith in victory and his firm will that impossibilities don’t exist.

By Raul Castro

Hurricane Irma, with its destructive forces, attacked our Island for over 72 hours, since the morning of September 8th until Sunday afternoon. With gale winds which exceeded 250 km/hour at some times, it traveled along the northern parts of country from Baracoa, Guantanamo, which also suffered at the hands of hurricane Mathew about a year ago, to near Cardenas, Matanzas. However, due to just how great in size it was, no region in the country has escaped its effects.

Experts classified it as the largest hurricane to have formed in the Atlantic and this metereological phenomenon caused severe damage across the country, which is still unknown precisely because of its magnitude. An initial study shows us that housing, the electric energy system and agriculture have all been affected.

Furthermore, it hit our main tourist destinations; however, these damages will be repaired before the peak season begins. We have the human and material resources we need, as this is one of the national economy’s main sources of revenue.

These have been tough days for our people, who have seen what has been built with so much effort get knocked down by a devastating hurricane in just a few hours. The latest photos speak for themselves, as well as our people’s spirits of resistance and victory, a people reborn in the wake of every adversity.

In these difficult times, unity has prevailed among Cubans, solidarity among neighbors and discipline in the face of guidelines issued by the National Civil Defense at every level. Also evident were the professionalism of our experts at the Metereological Institute, the fast reporting of our media and journalists, support from mass organizations as well as the cohesiveness between the National Defense Council’s managing bodies. A special mention goes out to all of our women, including Party and Government leaders who have led and faced this difficult situation with composure and maturity.

The following days will involve a lot of work, where the Cuban people’s strength will be proved yet again and their indestructible faith in the Revolution. This is no time to feel sorry for ourselves, but to rebuild what Hurricane Irma’s winds tried to make disappear.

With organization, discipline and by integrating all of our structures, we will rise above this like we have on previous occasions. Don’t let anyone be fooled, the task we have at hand is immense, but with a people like ours, we will win the most important battle: recovery.

At this critical point in time, the Cuba Workers’ Federation (CTC) and the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) will need to redouble their efforts, alongside other mass organizations, in order to counteract the effects of this destructive event as soon as possible.

One principle remains fixed: the Revolution won’t leave anyone helpless and is already taking measures so that no Cuban family is left to their own fate.

As is custom here, every time a meteorological phenomenon strikes us, we receive many actions of support from all over the world. Heads of State and of Government leaders, political organizations and friends from solidarity movements have all expressed their willingness to help us, which we thank in the name of the over 11 million Cuban people here on the island.

Let’s face this task of recovery with the example of the Cuban Revolution’s Commander in Chief, Fidel Castro’s, he who taught us with his unwavering faith in victory and his firm will that impossibilities don’t exist. At this difficult time, his legacy makes us stronger and we stand united.


What's your opinion?

  • Larry

    Raul is starting to sound like fidel’ the people of cuba can only do so much’ much outside help will be the first thing that should happen electricty first food and housing second and then the inforstructor next without its help people will not be able to repair anything if they have no place to live and food to surrive

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    There is no question that for the people of Cuba, hurricane Irma has been a major disaster which will affect them for years to come. Only time will tell whether there is truth in Raul Castro stating that “no Cuban family is left to their own fate.”
    It is discouraging to observe that even an important statement regarding such severe destruction affecting virtually every Cuban, has been utilised to further the cult of the personality. The use of the deceased Fidel Castro’s name in both the introduction and the final paragraph of the statement is indicative of the Communist Party of Cuba’s prime objective.
    We can only wish the people of Cuba recovery from their awful experience and hope that in addition to addressing the repair of hard currency earning assets, that the Government of Cuba will actually prove able to assist the individual Cubans and families.

  • CUBALIBRE

    Anyone with pictures from Matanzas, thanks.

  • Ginni

    CUBA needs to be ready for Cholera, Yellow Fever, etc. Where is the Health Department ???
    Yes, Raul is starting Fidel’s Propaganda campaign!

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Ginni, who is going to bring cholera to Cuba? In Haiti it was UN troops and they certainly will not be invited to Cuba. Cuba is justifiably proud of the Cuban Doctor Carlos Juan Finlay son of a Scottish physician and who graduated in medicine from the Jefferson Medical College in Philidelphia. It was as consequence of his research that yellow fever was eradicated in the early 1900’s. The hospital in Havana Clinico Quirurgico Militar Central Dr. Carlos J. Finlay is named after him. He was appointed Chief Medical Officer for Cuba from 1902 – 1909 and died in1915. It was following Finlay’s discovery of the cause of yellow fever that he collaborated with the US Doctor Walter Reed.
      Always remember that Cuba has a history dating back for over 500 years and had many distinguished academics long before the Castro’s father immigrated from Galicia. Education and the Science of Medicine are not new in Cuba.

      • Ginni

        Cholera will come from drinking the contaminated water, the open sewage areas. The ZIKA virus from the mosquitoes is possible too. Other diseases are rapid there now i.e. AIDS for one. There are a lot of excellent Cuban medical personnel.

        • Some Marxist American

          Believe it or not Cuba has actually dealt with HIV/AIDS, and has been controlling the virus much better than the USA. In fact, there have been 35 times more deaths of HIV/AIDS in the USA than in Cuba. While their system may be a bit rough, at least they educate people with it how not to spread the disease instead of leaving people with the most basic understanding out to dry, and eventually forget symptoms of such diseases. I do agree with you that Zika may cause a problem, however I have feeling that they may deal with it in the same way that they deal with HIV/AIDS, education.

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            Well ‘Some Marxist American’ only 35 times more deaths with only 31 times the population and despite freedom of movement with immigration from Africa, the Americas including Haiti. I thought the US would have had higher figures. As you will know, Cuba being Communist is not bothered with people wanting to immigrate, but has many citizens trying to escape from Communist repression.

  • CErmle

    It’s a crying shame that you have to twist every word that President Castro utters, and turn it into something sinister. The President is to be commended. You are not helping the situation by being so negative. Stop the counter-revolution rhetoric. These are serious matters. Thank you.

    • Terry Downey

      Agreed, CErmle. By the same token, it could be argued that leaders from all over the world are also evoking “the cult of the personality” whenever summoning the memory and passions of past leadership within their countries to inspire their populations to rise above tragic circumstances. How many times have we heard American presidents draw references to Lincoln, Washington, Kennedy, and Roosevelt to inspire the American people to action? But Carlyle doesn’t possess the ability to fairly see the bigger picture… his mind has been contaminated by his prejudice to the point of hypocrisy and embarrassment with his simpleton comments.

  • N.J. Marti

    Big hit here to the tourist sector. The whole Caribean is going to have a bad season. People will make alternative plans this year. The infrastructure will take years, not months to recover.

  • Krista C

    I and my future husband will be getting married in Cuba in several weeks along with 52 guests from 4 different countries. Despite the negativity from family and friends as to why on earth we will still have a wedding and the 11 who backed out due to the Hurricane- most have never been to Cuba. It is those people who will see why we chose Cuba and why we love Cubans. It is their reslience, compassion, strength. perserverance they will come together and rebuild. They will rake the beach, pick up the palm trees, replant and put the roofs back on the structures, paint do what it takes to fix it. Will it be tomorrow? No. Will it be perfect by December? No but the sun will shine on Cuba and they will dry off. No hurricane in Cuba is going to ruin my wedding day. Now is more of a reason to go to Cuba and boost their economy. Cubans depend on tourism they will work as hard and as fast as they love tourists. In addition to carting a wedding dress we will bring extra supplies to assist them as they need our help.

    • Frederick Michael Kelly

      Sweet you are a true human god bless you and your wedding day.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      I too was married in Cuba, but to a Cuban. You are right to continue with your plans Krista and I wish you and your husband to be a wonderful wedding and as happy a future as that which we have enjoyed. I hope the that that enchantment which is the magic of Cuba will remain with you both for life!

    • Moses Patterson

      Do Cubans love tourists more than Jamaicans do? More than residents of Puerto Rico or St. Thomas? Are Cubans more hard-working than Germans? Mexicans? Americans? The productivity statistics say otherwise. My point is that we must be careful not to over-romanticize Cuba and overstate their capacity to overcome challenges. To do so only sets them up for disappointment.

  • Nicky Wilcox

    I also got married in Cuba 4 months ago and we had 22 with us and it was my 3rd time I feel like its my home from home as the people are real thats away from thr hotels in the villages if I had the money I would be there to help just like there helping by sending there medical care teams to all those that need help.I will always love Cuba.