Heroic efforts by Cuban firefighters and other emergency personnel, aided by colleagues from Mexico and Venezuela, have brought under control a major fire at a vital oil facility in Matanzas, Cuba, that began August 5. However, as a statement by six North American organizations explains, “A province and country already suffering from acute shortages of medical supplies and power cuts due to the US blockade has now suffered a major further blow.”
A lightning strike that set one oil storage tank on fire set off the blaze. The fire then spread to other tanks. The August 11 Wall Street Journal reported the horrific blaze resulted in at least two deaths, 130 people injured, and 14 firefighters missing. Nearly 5,000 people were evacuated from the surrounding area. “The 2.4-million-barrel Matanzas terminal is Cuba’s main logistics center for imports, storage, and distribution of fuel, and the only port equipped to handle the supertankers used for shipping oil,” the Journal reported.
The consequences of this disaster will exacerbate the enormous challenges that confront Cuba as it tries to produce enough energy for the country in the face of the ongoing U.S. economic blockade of the island. Cuba’s electrical grid was already straining due to aging electrical generating plants and an inadequate supply of oil, which the energy grid heavily relies on. Now the country faces the additional challenge of how to receive the large tankers that deliver oil with the Matanzas facility so badly damaged.
“The flames subside. A devastating mark remains,” Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez, said on Thursday, August 11.
In addition to the critical energy crisis, the disaster poses immediate medical emergencies.
The Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), Global Health Partners, and other organizations have launched an emergency appeal to send badly needed supplies to Cuba, according to a statement by these North American solidarity groups.
The supplies include burn treatment priorities — gauze, vaseline, wound cleanser, surgical gloves, silver sulfadiazine cream — and medications to treat dengue. These groups are also raising funds to send medical equipment to Cuba to boost its ability to carry out trauma-related surgeries.
“Please send your gift to Global Health Partners, which has a U.S. Commerce Department license to send medical supplies to Cuba. You can make an immediate donation online by clicking here,” the appeal says.
“You can also send checks payable to Global Health Partners, with the memo Medical Supplies, at 39 Broadway, Suite 1540, New York, NY 10006.”
The original text of the appeal can be read here. World-Outlook is also republishing it below.
Fight the Fire now!
On August 5, a large oil tank in Matanzas, Cuba, was hit by lightning, starting an enormous fire that caused another tank to explode and left 17 firefighters missing, 70+ people injured, some with severe burns, and hundreds evacuated from their homes. A province and country already suffering from acute shortages of medical supplies and power cuts due to the US blockade has now suffered a major further blow.
For an on the ground report from Belly of the Beast:
The Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) has launched an emergency appeal to send badly needed supplies to Cuba by plane later this week with further deliveries throughout August.
These supplies include burn treatment priorities – gauze, vaseline, wound cleanser, surgical gloves and silver sulfadiazine cream.
Fuel deficits have multiple negative effects. They have already prevented Cuba from doing regular fumigation spraying against an outbreak of dengue fever, increasing residents’ exposure to mosquitos, so we will also be sending mosquito nets, bug repellent and medications to treat dengue.
Financial donations are accepted NOW to make immediate bulk purchases of these supplies, and to support the shipping costs of all the items at https://ifconews.org/donate/ indicating that your donation is for medical aid for Cuba. AND Fight the Blockade!
Some of the badly burnt firefighters have been sent to Havana’s leading trauma surgery center, the Calixto Garcia Hospital. This hospital has 23 operating rooms, but just two working anesthesia machines. The hospital’s dedicated medical staff needs to perform more than 50 lifesaving surgeries each day but lacks the equipment to treat all these patients. “Imagine the anguish of having to wait for an operation that will save the life of your loved one,” says Dr. Guillermo Sanchez, the hospital’s Chief of Maxillofacial Surgery.
Under the U.S. blockade, Cuba can’t buy these vital machines and surgical supplies, so in June Global Health Partners and the Saving Lives Campaign launched an urgent drive to send five anesthesia machines, desperately needed surgical equipment, and enough sutures for 9,000 surgeries. $100,000 has already been raised for this campaign to purchase everything. We now need another $50,000 to ship everything to Cuba in three containers by the end of August. This will make an enormous difference to Cuba’s capacity for trauma surgery.
Please send your gift to Global Health Partners, which has a U.S. Commerce Department license to send medical supplies to Cuba. You can make an immediate donation online by clicking here: https://ghpartners.org/cuba2022/
You can also send checks payable to Global Health Partners, with the memo Medical Supplies, at 39 Broadway, Suite 1540, New York, NY 10006.
Organizing Committee, International Conference for the Normalization of US-Cuba Relations
Saving Lives Campaign US-CANADA-CUBA Cooperation
New York-New Jersey Cuba Sí Coalition
National Network on Cuba
Canadian Network on Cuba
Table de concertation et de solidarité Québec – Cuba
End All Economic and Travel Sanctions Against Cuba!
Return Guantanamo Territory to Cuba!
Stop US “Regime Change” Policy Against Cuba!
Categories: Cuba/Cuba Solidarity
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