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    Five days that shook Cuba

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    Cinco días que estremecieron a Cuba

    Like so many other great stories, one day we will have to calmly tell about these last five days that have shaken Cuba from the pain of fire –literally and from the soul–, and also from a will that surpasses itself.

    The most extreme adversity has not only entailed suffering: it has been, once again, the possibility of learning, and the ratification, Inside the Island, that the stones found in the fight have not been seen as obstacles, but as pieces with which to do new roads, bridges and curbstones on the route of resistance.

    This Wednesday morning, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, said at the meeting that here reviewed what had been done the previous morning and night, on purpose of the fight against the incident in the industrial zone of Matanzas: what happened in the last hours did not paralyze the country, because many things have been done to continue improving, and that is demonstrative, reflected the Head of State, of the capabilities that exist in the Cuban Revolution to move forward and learn every day.

    In the midst of the terrible magnitude of the events –valued the president– there was serenity, the ability to reach consensus on how to work; and there are the results: "In approximately five days we have achieved control of a large-scale fire," Díaz-Canel alleged. In addition, he emphasized: "Now the important thing is not to go back."

    The fire is controlled, with small outbreaks in extinction. That was the best news heard at the meeting, which was also attended by the Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz, and the Secretary of Organization of the Central Committee of the Party, Roberto Morales Ojeda -both members of the Political Bureau-, as well as with the first secretary of the Party in the province, Susely Morfa González, and the Governor of the territory, Mario Sabines Lorenzo.

    From multiple edges figures were updated and analyzes were performed. The Minister of Public Health, José Angel Portal Miranda, stated that at the close of this Tuesday there were a total of 128 people treated as a result of the fire; there were 108 medical discharges; no new identified deceased was reported; and at the height of this Wednesday the number of admitted amounted to 20 (with five patients in critical condition, two serious, and thirteen in a condition of care).

    The owner informed that the experts who will be in charge of the rescue and identification of the disappeared in the incident have been preparing. Regarding the environment, he assured that the monitoring of the conditions in the areas affected by the fire has been maintained.

    By the way, the Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, Elba Rosa Pérez Montoya, explained that there has been a loss of height at the base of the smoke column, and predicts that this will continue to happen. "We continue, he said, with the monitoring of air quality, especially in Matanzas." He also commented that the provinces of Mayabeque, Havana, Artemisa, and Pinar del Río are observed.

    After hearing data regarding the state of the waters near the site of the disaster, the Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz, stated that it is ratified that the contamination indicators are below danger figures, and that no patients have arrived at the hospitals affected by contamination.

    The country's electro-energy situation –especially what is related to the operation of the Antonio Guiteras Thermoelectric Power Plant–; the work, step by step, of firefighters who no longer face danger of spread or explosions; the more than 240 helicopter flights that dumped two tons of water on each mission were issues addressed at the meeting. There was also talk about the value of recording and reflecting, from communication, all the actions deployed to quell the incident.

    It is very important to reflect - Roberto Morales Ojeda expressed - on what it would have meant not to have deployed, as it was done, an integrated, coordinated work, with an extraordinary effort, which constitutes a true feat.

    There was also talk of the 25 flights from Mexico and Venezuela; of how many shows of solidarity have taken place on the part of carriers throughout the country, both state and non-state; how the incident has not affected tourism in any way; and how the firefighters continue to work on the fire containment dikes, doing everything on the ground, to suffocate what remains.

    How economic and social activities have continued to be ensured in the territory, the more than 5,000 people evacuated due to the fire, what will be done with the homes affected by the incident, the generosity that has come from other latitudes, and also From other places on the Island, Mario Sabines Lorenzo spoke at the meeting.

    Meanwhile, Susely Morfa González argued about the importance of communication and the people of Matanzas who, in their most recurrent opinions, thanks the historical leadership of the Revolution and the top leaders of today for the incessant company, for the vast shared experience.

    The fundamental tasks of the province, he said, did not stop: "Now what remains is to work," he asserted.

    Towards the end of the day, President Díaz-Canel referred to "the elements that have led us to a stage of control of the incident", as well as what has been done with a view to the recovery stage.

    "Here one of the fundamental elements that allowed us to advance, especially in recent days, was the effort made with the colleagues from Cupet (CubaPetróleo Union), from Hydraulic Resources, from the Electric Power Company, to guarantee water flows that were needed to operate the Supertanker Base system itself, which was affected in some places by the fire.” The dignitary spoke of the efforts to be able to add technologies from Venezuela and Mexico to this system.

    As he reasoned, it is easy to say, but the work has been enormous; because, for example, the pipes could only be loaded with cranes, and the work was done at very high temperatures, often interrupted by the turbulence of the incident.

    He spoke of the courage of all, of the construction forces building sand dams; of the helicopters; of the defense councils that were activated; of the way in which the information flowed to the population; of not trusting because the hard work is not over; of the merit of having guaranteed that no more tanks collapsed: «What has been achieved, he stressed, has to do with the heroism, with the courage, with the solidarity, with the commitment, and with the unity with which this has been faced. I believe that there are the reasons, there are the essence of the result and also of the certainty that we are going to continue advancing».

    The agenda of the country's highest leadership then included a tour – led by President Díaz-Canel – through the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric plant, where today the ways to maintain the necessary supply of water demanded by the generating entity for its operations are being sought.

    The next point on the itinerary was the arrival, not far from the incident, of the driver who carries the water to the Guiteras, and the super tankers, who had a breakdown due to which the flow of water needed by the plant has decreased.

    It was already noon when the Head of State visited the entrance to Pier One of the Matanzas Supertanker Base. There, he talked with Venezuelan brothers who have come to help us in these difficult hours. A son of the Bolivarian land told the dignitary: "We are from several refineries, but here we try to speak a single language to combat that dragon (in reference to fire)".

    There, where there were also valuable men from Cuba and Mexico, the President spoke of unity. The emotions, in the middle of a landscape of gray and black traces due to the sinister, marked multiple encounters. They were the same emotions experienced later at the Camilo Cienfuegos headquarters of the University of Matanzas, where the president spoke with relatives, evacuated there, and who were affected by the danger of the fire.

    The president spoke of the empire that absurdly does not loosen the nuts, of the stoic youth that we have –and such a truth has been well confirmed in these hours–, of the noble and great people that is Cuba. In addition, as always happens, the women reigned in moving dialogues.

    A university student told Díaz-Canel: “We trust you. The whole town trusts you because trusting you is also trusting ourselves, because each one has to put their grain of sand». Moreover, the President replied that by himself, what would that mean. Then the young man, who had explained about local projects, returned to the charge: «It's you and the town. It is us, because we are all people.

    Cheers to the Revolution and its historical leaders, cheers to the people of Matanzas. Once again, the voice of the young man expressed to Díaz-Canel: «We will continue forward; Homeland or die we'll win; … and we are with you.”