Photo: ACN

Pinar del Río.– Seventeen years later, Pinar del Río will once again host the national act commemorating the anniversaries of the assaults of the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons.
The people of Pinar del Río enthusiastically welcomed the news, which arrived as residents prepare to celebrate the provincial capital’s 150th anniversary in September.
In the lead-up to July 26 celebrations a broad program of repair and restoration works are being carried out in the city of Pinar del Rio, and although much remains to be done, a celebratory atmosphere reigns throughout the province.
Residents took to the streets, forming a conga line which paraded around the city before ending in José Martí Park, to celebrate after it was announced that Pinar del Río would once again host national July 26 celebrations.
During an improvised meeting in honor of the occasion, Gladys Martínez Verdecia, first Party secretary in the province, congratulated the people of Pinar del Río, whose efforts led to the region receiving this honor.
“We accept such a high distinction with immense joy,” she stated, adding that it also constitutes a stimulus and commitment by residents to continue increasing production, the quality of services, economic efficiency, and outcomes of key social programs.
Speaking later to the press, Martínez Verdecia explained that over the last year Pinar del Río has seen satisfactory results with regard to its economic and social plan; noting for example that all municipalities surpassed projected revenue targets, or the province’s infant mortality rate of 2.1 for every 1,000 live births, the lowest in the region’s history, where before the Revolution the rate was estimated to be at least 60.5 for every 1,000 live births.
Work has also been underway to recover the tobacco industry, with some 1,000 more hectares planted (18,000 in total) than during the last harvest, while advances in fields such of sports continue.
In fact, with less than 600,000 inhabitants, Pinar del Río could have placed above countries such as Venezuela, Bulgaria, Egypt, Norway or the Dominican Republic, on the Río de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games medal chart, if it had competed as an independent nation.
Unlike the year 2000, when the province hosted the main act for National Rebellion Day, this July 26 residents of Pinar del Río will not be accompanied by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro.
Nonetheless, the First Party Secretary, noted that the people of Cuba’s westernmost province “Will never fail the leader of the Revolution, and will continue the united march, which he called on us to join at every moment,”
For former star pitcher Pedro Luis Lazo, current manager of Pinar del Río’s baseball team, the distinction is a source of inspiration.  
“For the Pinar del Río team it’s a commitment to be at the forefront of this recognition in the upcoming series for which we are preparing,” stated one of Cuba’s all-time best pitchers speaking to Granma.
At work places, in schools, parks, at bus stops, in factories and on farms, residents expressed their joy at the news that their province will host this year’s July 26 celebrations.
“We haven’t had this opportunity for a while and I think it’s arrived at a good time,” stated Salvador Carvajal, a tobacco farmer from San Juan y Martínez, an area globally regarded as the Mecca of tobacco.
“Positive changes can be seen in the city of Pinar del Río and the province in general, as well as an atmosphere of work which will help us to continue advancing further each and every day,” he noted.
“I think it’s an honor, but also a victory for our people who have worked very hard,” states Naomi Shuman, a seventh grade student at Tomás Orlando Díaz High School.
“Our city has been lovelier than ever recently. Many new buildings have been constructed and many places have been fixed-up. We are all very excited about the city’s 150th anniversary, which is why being selected to host the July 26 celebrations has arrived at the perfect moment.”
Beyond Pinar del Río, the news has also been well received by residents working in other provinces and countries, who expressed their joy via social media.
Over recent days the land of wrestler Mijaín López and author Nersys Felipe, of Cuba and the Valle de Viñales’ first campesino militia, has been inundated with a sense of joy and motivation to work harder, because at the end of the day, as the song by Carlos Puebla goes: “It’s always the 26th.”