UNDP delivers more supplies for Havana tornado victims

Some 2,125 personal and 700 double mattresses, which will benefit 3,525 people, were donated to Cuba by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in the continuation of its support to families affected by the tornado that affected several municipalities of the Cuban capital at the end of January.

The warehouses of the Provincial Company of Supplies and Transport (Emprosut), subordinated to the Council of the Provincial Administration (CAP), were visited by Soledad Bauza, UNDP's assistant representative on the island, and Wilfredo Cobas, a specialist from the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment.

Bauza told ACN that 3,525 sets of sheets and an equal number of towels have also been purchased, which will arrive in Havana in the next few days and will complement the mattresses now received, as well as 1,850 kitchen kits, all this aid with funds from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

After the tornado, the UNDP immediately made available to local authorities two thousand tarpaulins for roofs, recalled the official, who announced that within a month will arrive in the country a thousand modules of tiles of 75 square meters, which will be installed by the government of the capital, which already has the structures to fix the roofs, he said.

Upon being interviewed by ACN, Cobas pointed out that from the very first moment of the catastrophe, the aforementioned United Nations agency accompanied the Cuban government in the identification of priorities, with a view to providing support with resources such as those mentioned above.

Both the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment and Olivia Méndez, CAP official in Havana, thanked UNDP for its valuable help on behalf of the authorities and people of the Island.

With more than 40 years of experience in recovery actions in Cuba, as happened after the passage of hurricanes Sandy, Matthew and Irma, the referred UN Program has accompanied the Cuban government under the premise of "rebuilding better", with emphasis on housing, in addition to contributing goods for the benefit of affected communities.

The tornado of January 27th caused total collapses in more than 500 houses, not counting the thousands partially affected in roofs and walls, and the damaged socioeconomic facilities, in the municipalities of Regla, Guanabacoa, Diez de Octubre, La Habana del Este and San Miguel del Padrón.

Thanks to the will of the State, a large part of these buildings have been recovered and the intention is to make them better than they were.


  • Published in Cuba

One lie every 24 hours: List of political manipulations after the tornado

One lie every 24 hours... and the count continues, but recovery in Cuba after the tornado, too. Here’s a list of political manipulations and lies released this first week after the path of the tornado on Sunday, January 27, through several municipalities of the Cuban capital:

1- To present the March of the Torches as a distraction of the necessary assistance in the face of the disaster.

2- The needy only receive food and any other aid sold to them.

3- The Cuban government is not interested in facilitating ways for the sending of aid from the Cuban community abroad.

4- The donations sent from abroad are taxed.

5-The direct delivery of the donations to the victims is banned.

6- Famous artists and other people were incarcerated for taking donations.

7- The personal aid and assistance to the inhabitants of the affected areas is main or exclusively coming from the private sector.

8- Local Governments are demanding that all donations must be handed over to them so they can stock up them indefinitely, sell them to the needy, keep them or let government personnel steal them.

9- Authorities went to the houses of people who received donations to take them away.

10- The police prevented entry to the affected areas.

11- Dissemination of a fake video in which the president allegedly flees a group of inhabitants in need who were claiming to be listened to.

I feel certain that other people can tell more. But since the night when the tornado hit Havana many have intentionally circulated at least one lie every 24 hours.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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Cuban President Insists on Unity to Overcome Adversities

Havana, Feb 3 (Prensa Latina) One week after a tornado hit several municipalities in this capital, Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel insisted on unity to face adversities, after remembering National Hero Jose Marti's thought.

On his Twitter account, the president wrote that the Cuban people can overcome anything because they face it together, in reference to this week's natural disasters and the blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba for nearly six decades.

'The homeland is joy, pain and heaven for all,' the president wrote when quoting the Cuban hero.

In another tweet, Diaz-Canel recalled Marti again when he posted that 'he taught us that the only dignified autograph of a man is the one he leaves written with his works; and Cuba's best offsprings are writing theirs in the soul of the people affected by the tornado, whom they are helping.'

According to experts, the occurrence of tornadoes of such magnitude is unusual in Cuba and they are hard to forecast. That explains how many Havana residents were taken by surprise on the streets, even though the population had been warned about bad weather conditions on January 27.

  • Published in Cuba

Solidarity, beyond the first impetus

The drama of many of the victims of the tornado that hit Havana last Sunday, January 27 is huge; but it is encouraging to see the immediate and spontaneous solidarity of many people. The challenge is to go further beyond that first impetus.

The wounds of many of the Cubans directly affected by that terrible tornado will take some time to heal: but scars will always remain.

Only the people who have personally experienced a tragedy of such magnitude can put themselves in the shoes of those who lost everything or almost everything in a flash.

Nobody is ready for that, much as television news spaces show victims who, picking up courage, convey encouragement and optimism.

The only solace (and it will always be insufficient) is to feel accompanied and supported in such tough times.

Those who, think that the Cuban people is unable to mobilize itself for solidarity if it is not previously summoned and urged, would have been amazed by the spontaneity and massiveness of the expressions of moral and material support.

Without waiting for someone’s directions, since the huge destruction, many families’ tragedy and the real dimension of the disaster came to light, thousands of people from Havana and other provinces started to mobilize and organize themselves to create chains that could provide the victims with staple items, medicines, clothing and footwear, dissimilar personal stocks and other items.

Social networks are full of pictures and videos, which bear witness the scope of those initiatives. The media have too echoed these specific demonstrations of solidarity of artists, sportspeople, professionals from various sectors, students, as well as anonymous people, whose sole interest is not to appear in a photo delivering their donations, but the simple fact that their contribution reaches those who need it.

Because, certainly, in some cases the willingness to offer help is linked (and even, conditioned) by the publicity of the act of support… certain exhibitionism that hinders the humanism of the gesture.

Perhaps some other “show business” figure has set a staging to appear as a benefactor; it could be… but we should not get paranoid: that will be (should be) a personal dilemma, and fortunately it seems to be a minority.

The volume of that aid should be channeled through local authorities, so it can be delivered to those who really need it. Here is one of the challenges: the integration of the whole social framework, ranging from the people, social organizations, and neighborhood councils to the roughly formal groups that take over those responsibilities.

All aid is welcome

However, a cardinal aspect cannot be forgotten: the main responsibles for providing assistance, those in charge of heading the recovery and reconstruction process, those who have the obligation (and not only the duty or the possibility) to ensure that nobody is left helpless are (must be) the government and its institutions.

There are mechanisms, there are special regulations, there are budget headings, there are reserves… conceived for situations like this.

Obviously, everything cannot be foreseen: it is necessary to adjust schemes, to make accurate decisions and to mobilize human and material resources.

But minimizing the role of government and state institutions, and of the forces of the interior order, would be a nonsense: those authorities will be in charge of keeping the support to the tornado-affected families, when the current enthusiasm from the different sectors of society cools off.

It will be natural, it does not mean that people will stop worrying about their fellow men. But the people (we, those of us who were directly hit) will gradually return to our routines, when the crucial moments of the current crisis are over.

Resilience refers to the capacity of human beings and their society to survive in adversity.

Nevertheless, the problems, the serious problems of many of the affected families won’t be resolved in two or three weeks… nor will the spontaneous generosity of the population completely resolve them.

Hence the importance of a solid and institutional framework, which channels support to the victims, provides fair alternatives for recovery, facilitates access to the humanitarian aid, and guarantees peace… everything under the permanent scrutiny of the citizens.

No Cuban can be left helpless. We must perpetuate solidarity.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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