Letter to Randy Alonso

A letter from Fidel to Randy Alonso, director of the “Roundtable” program

Dear Randy,

Yesterday’s “Roundtable” program was particularly interesting and the information provided was extremely valuable. It is a pity that at that time the whole island was without electricity, from Punta de Maisí to Cabo de San Antonio. Just a few family homes in the Camilo Cienfuegos district that were able to resist the fierce winds had power. An underground cable connected to the generator at the Luis Díaz Soto Hospital reached that area.

When this energy, so necessary to our era, is absent, there are many shortages and nothing functions. We yearn for the day when all those homes capable of withstanding hurricanes, which I talked about some days ago, are able to receive electricity via underground cables. Unfortunately, this will take some time and will be a tremendous expense.

For a second, I imagined what would have become of the inhabitants of our island in the face of the natural disaster that has just occurred without the Civil Defense system and the population’s emergency services, such as hospitals, polyclinics, bakeries, information centers and other similar services, if these had not had available electrical energy.

The images of homes and other buildings destroyed, crops ruined, trees brought down, rivers bursting their banks, houses invaded by water in low-lying areas, people swept away by the force of rapid currents and saved thanks to the desperate efforts of others; these were devastating. I think that some of these images should be re-broadcast in the future so that those who had their televisions switched off will be able to witness them.

We must never forget the scenes of the men from the Armed Forces and their special troops carrying out missions to aid and support the population and the victims. The actions of the Firefighters Corps were very impressive, risking their lives, wading through dangerous currents to help their compatriots.

You need rigorous training and courage to fulfill these tasks. Only in very exceptional circumstances are we aware that these men exist and they prepare themselves in silence for critical moments. I confess that I thought the images of José Ramón Machado Ventura and Ramón Espinosa Martín, first vice president of the Council of State and chief of the Eastern Army, respectively, were very moving; weather-beaten by the struggle, together with much younger comrades, presidents of the Defense Councils, they tirelessly visited the places that had been worst hit and immediately indicated the measures that should be adopted. This also occurred with other high-ranking Party leaders, together with Joaquín Quinta Solá, former head of the Central Army and current deputy minister of the FAR, and Leopoldo Cintra Frías, chief of the Western Army, and the presidents of the Defense Councils in the provinces and municipalities they visited.

I saw with more clarity than ever before the value of symbols. The Cuban flags shone like never before on the shoulders of Party leaders, be they women or men, at this difficult and testing time. These are the subjective factors without which all would be lost and without which victory would not be possible.

The work carried out by the journalists, who did not sleep or rest, at times defying the rain and wind, has been excellent, informing the country of the events, transmitting truths, examples and experiences, which made us feel that we are part of a national community interlinked with all the inhabitants of the planet. The peoples of the world who have sent their messages of solidarity, even though a large part of them are suffering from poverty and attacks by nature, which the consumer societies with their sophisticated technologies are driving towards a point that is incompatible with human survival itself.

The time will come to analyze the objective factors, the rational and optimum use of material and human resources; what must be done in every concrete place, where we should or should not invest; what to do with every cent; respond to every question that has to be asked in situations of emergency. And under normal circumstances, when everything returns to its place and the normal lives of children, adolescents, and adults continuing moving forward, always prepared to fight and win without ever becoming disheartened in the face of the adversities of today or of tomorrow.

Our duty is to overcome!

Fidel Castro Ruz
September 10, 2008