OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
: It appears that the most severe damage was to the city’s housing stock. Photo: Juvenal Balán

This commitment was demonstrated by the President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, who during the early hours of January 28, toured areas of the capital affected by a devastating, category EF 4 tornado, which caused considerable material and human damage in Havana. The tornado developed as part of a line of locally severe storms moving across the western portion of the country on Sunday, ahead of a cold front.

Díaz-Canel visited the affected municipalities and during the day conducted two meetings of the Council of Ministers to evaluate the situation and adopt measures to advance the recovery, in the wake of damage caused by heavy rain and the tornado.

Inés María Chapman, a vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, reported on repairs to the Southern Basin aqueduct, damaged by the tornado, the night of January 27, and added via Twitter, “We are here along with workers from Havana Water and the president of the INRH. A night of intense battle, to reestablish service.” Chapman and Antonio Rodríguez, president of the National Institute of Water Resources, toured the severely impacted municipality of Regla.

In the early hours of January 29, Roberto Morales Ojeda, a vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, toured the Diez de Octubre Gyneco-Obstetric Hospital, severely damaged by the tornado. Via Twitter, he highlighted the efforts of workers and management to protect the lives of children and mothers. For his part, the Minister of Public Health, José Ángel Portal Miranda, expressed condolences to the families of those affected, and said that workers in the sector would work together to quickly rehabilitate damaged facilities.

The National Assembly of People’s Power also used its official Twitter account to convey condolences to families and friends of victims of the extreme weather events, writing, “All of the Cuban people’s support and solidarity for you. Now we must work together to recover from the damage, that is considerable.”

The Minister of Economy and Planning, Alejandro Gil Fernández, asserted on social media, “We are working for a rapid recovery of our capital. We will move forward, as always.”

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla joined those sending messages of encouragement to Havana’s people and government, calling for joint efforts to repair the damage as quickly as possible.

Likewise, Jorge Luis Perdomo, minister of Communications, stated, “Communications workers are already working on reestablishing services in affected areas, where exterior facilities suffered considerable damage. Routers and posts must be raised. Brigades are being reinforced with all the staff and resources available. Venceremos.”

It was also reported that Radio Cuba workers were repairing the transmission tower in the municipality of Regla, and that as a temporary measure, Radio Rebelde and Coco were being broadcast from other facilities.

Evaluation of tornado damage began immediately. Photo: José Manuel Correa

Meisi Bolaños Weiss, minister of Finances and Prices reported that workers at the ministry and within its system, including the National Tax Office and insurance providers, are ready to support the recovery in Havana.

Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Mal­mierca took to social media, as well, to convey a message to the people, writing, “Just as Fidel and Raúl taught us, President Díaz-Canel is in the trenches, along with the Cuban people. Condolences and conviction that no one will be left unprotected.”

This importance of operative, disciplined, and organized action to overcome the tornado damage in several capital city municipalities, during this stage of the recovery, was emphasized in a meeting of the Provincial Defense Council, activated immediately following the storms, and headed by its president, Luis Antonio Torres Irí­bar, who stated that the people must feel well supported.

After a preliminary report on damages, and the coordination of first responders’ efforts, Torres referred to directives issued by President Díaz-Canel, who called for rapid, well-organized work.

He said that providing the population with accurate, objective information; assuring food to those impacted; and analyzing alternatives to ensure fuel supplies, were among the President’s directives.

Torres recalled that Fidel taught us that no citizen can be left abandoned to fate, and recognized the efficient response of public health workers, not only in assisting victims, but in evacuating patients from the Hijas de Galicia Hospital in conjunction with firefighters.

OTHER WINDS OVER CUBA

After the tornado in Havana, embattled Venezuela, extended a friendly hand, that of a heroic people in the voice of its legitimate president, Nicolás Maduro, who tweeted, “People of Cuba and our brother President @Diaz­CanelB, you can count on all the solidarity and support of Venezuela at this difficult moment. I express my condolences to families of victims who have been affected by the tornado and heavy rains."

A similar message arrived from Bolivia, where precisely on Sunday, underway were primary elections for members of several parties, another step forward for democracy, reported President Evo Morales, who likewise tweeted, “All of our solidarity with the sister people of Cuba, who suffered a strong tornado that left at least three persons dead and hundreds injured. We convey our condolences to the families of victims, and offer President @DiazCanelB our support in any way needed.”

The President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, and Vice President Rosario Murillo, also sent Cuba "all our affection on this day of hardship and loss," and referred to the words of Cuba’s ambassador in Nicaragua, Juan Carlos Hernández, who stated, "Our people will know how to overcome this situation", Prensa Latina reported.From El Salvador, where the FMLN flooded the capital city’s streets to close their campaign prior to February 3 elections, President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, stated, "El Salvador send its best wishes for a speedy recovery to those who were injured, and expresses its solidarity to the many families affected by this natural phenomenon," a Foreign Ministry communiqué reported.

Panama’s President Juan Varela, likewise affirmed on Twitter: “Our solidarity with

President @DiazCanelB, the people and government of Cuba, where a powerful tornado struck, leaving loss of life, injuries, and material damage in Havana.”