SANTIAGO DE CUBA.— The city shines, just as Fidel always wanted to see it and as Army General Raúl Castro Ruz called for five years ago. Santiago’s men and women dedicated the 65th anniversary of the Moncada assault to a more beautiful, well-ordered, clean, and disciplined city.

We must recall that, less than six years ago, Hurricane Sandy struck the city, leaving extensive damage to its housing stock, economic and commercial facilities, public buildings, recreation sites, telephone and electricity infrastructure, while eliminating in one blow its trees and waterfront, leaving the daily lives of citizens devastated.

The pain in Santiagans’ eyes was visible as they contemplated the 500 year old city torn apart, but as the First Secretary of the Party in the province, Lázaro Expósito Canto, said, a revolutionary people, with the fiber of the Mambises, fights under all circumstances and never gives up.

Raúl made many visits to support and encourage, while on the telephone, Fidel was always motivating and clarifying the work underway, conveying his recognition on the city’s 500th anniversary, July 25, 2015. He is today more present than ever in the effort and commitment of the city, where victory is always expected.

Some 330 works of economic and social importance here were dedicated to the Centenary Generation and its leader on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Moncada assault, but most importantly the revitalization and beautification efforts have reached almost all of the province’s municipalities, towns, and neighborhoods.

Although mentioning every project is practically impossible, worth noting are the conclusion of a thousand dwellings of different models; the opening of eight hotels; the electrification of more than 1,500 remote homes with solar panels; while in the agricultural arena, a bull feedlot and small livestock ranches to raise sheep, goats, rabbits, quail, and guinea fowl were established.

Likewise of special interest were steps taken to rehabilitate ten hospitals, including the installation of modern equipment; the start-up of two photovoltaic solar parks; and the repair or construction of five well-fitted gymnasiums, three new childcare centers, ice cream parlors, veterinary clinics, stores, and sales outlets.

Also undertaken were the transformation of 150 local public administration facilities to create technology centers, 3D film screening halls, bakeries, sweet shops, markets, cultural centers, clubs, and restaurants, along with the elimination of makeshift electrical connections in 15 neighborhoods, and some 500 new telephone connections in rural communities, six new WiFi hotspots, and three flower shops.

Of great significance are the restoration of the July 26, Siboney farm, and Abel Santamaría museums; 21 monuments dedicated to the Moncada assailants on the Siboney road; the Vilma Espín Memorial; as well as locales honoring José Martí, José Maceo, Juan Almeida, and Eliseo Reyes (Capitán San Luis).

The city’s avenues now feature covered sidewalks and modern stoplights; street painting was updated; 3,000 new LED streetlamps installed; and giant Cuban flags and that of the July 26th Movement wave from soaring flagpoles, while several hundred smaller versions wave around town.

“The environment is great, lots of happiness,” Expósito Canto emphasized to Granma International, “The effort has been enormous in the works and economic tasks. This outcome must be answered with love, dignity, and discipline, because we have Fidel here, who taught us to struggle for justice and left us these essential values.”

In addition to all of the above, many more initiatives are coming to improve daily life, brighten the city’s public image, and beautify the city in general, so that, while Raúl commented after the blow delivered by Sandy, “Santiago moves, it appears to have been bombed,” it can now be said, “Santiago impresses, it appears to have been reborn.”