Coordination and Support Staff dissolved


“Sources of utmost credibility” have informed Penúltimos Días blog that at the beginning of the week, Fidel Castro’s Grupo de Coordinación y Apoyo al Comandante en Jefe (Coordination and Support Staff — GCA) was dissolved.

According to the blog, several members of the Staff have been reassigned to new posts within the government.

GCA was a parallel structure of government that has been,  from its inception, Fidel Castro’s executive staff implementing and executing his policy initiatives for the country.

Most notable Staff members have been recently sacked Carlos Lage (Vice-President) and Felipe Pérez Roque (Foreign Minister), whom respectively served as chief. – Swimming pool villa in Havana


Jardines del Rey Tourist Destination Already Operates at Full Capacity

Jardines del Rey, (King’s Gardens), the important tourist destination located north of Ciego de Ávila province, at this moment is already operating at full capacity after all the problems caused by hurricane Ike, as expressed by an official report.

The note of the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) indicates that the tourist complex, made up of the Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo resorts, currently holds 3 620 rooms in 12 hotels and four five-star villages.

The hotel facilities of the cays, some 530 kilometres east of Havana, suffered from minimum damages because of the hurricane; however the access causeway, the water pipelines and the communication means were seriously damaged.

Several services, indicates the report, were re-established in record time by construction and telecommunications brigades, which facilitated to recover the operation dynamics both at the airport and the hotels.

After the path of Ike, a flight from England arrived with tourists for Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo. In a few days the arrival is expected of other 800 European travelers.


Help for Cuba and Haiti

The devastating string of tropical storms and hurricanes that rushed through the Caribbean in the last month — Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike — left hundreds dead and tens of thousands of people hurt and displaced in Haiti. The country’s crops appear to be destroyed. In Cuba, Gustav and Ike destroyed or damaged hundreds of thousands of homes. A fifth of the population was evacuated to higher ground.

The scale of devastation calls for an extraordinary assistance effort that is, so far, not happening. While the United States has offered some emergency aid to Haiti, it has not done enough for an impoverished nation that Americans have a moral responsibility to help. And the Bush administration’s peculiar fixation with an obsolete trade embargo and deep-pocketed anti-Castro hard-liners in Miami is standing in the way of dispatching desperately needed assistance for Cuba.

In the last week, Washington has announced $10 million in aid for Haiti. It sent the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge, which carries helicopters and airplanes, to assist in the relief effort. It is a good start. But Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, will need more. Only half the American aid is new money — the rest is being diverted from less urgently needed programs. And the United Nations has asked for more than $100 million to help those stricken by the storm.

Aid to Cuba is being complicated by outdated cold-war politics. The United States has, so far, offered only $100,000 in aid, with a promise of more if Cuba allows an American team in to assess the damage. Havana has foolishly rejected it. And the United States is refusing to temporarily ease core aspects of the longstanding trade embargo to help Cuba deal with the emergency.

The Treasury Department increased the dollar limit that organizations authorized to work with Cuban dissidents may send to Cuba. But Washington is refusing Cuba’s request to buy American construction materials to rebuild homes and repair the mangled electricity grid. It won’t allow Cuba to buy American food on credit, and it has, so far, refused to lift restrictions on the money that Cuban-Americans may send back to their relatives.

We believe the embargo against Cuba is about as wrongheaded a policy as one can devise. It gives credibility to the regime in Havana while contributing to the misery of ordinary Cubans, all for the sake of some votes in Florida. But we are not even asking the Bush administration to lift the embargo forever. The right thing to do to alleviate the crisis wrought by the storms is to temporarily lift all the restrictions on private remittances and private aid flows to Cuba.

Source: New York Times Editorial

Unfortunate loss of seven human lives in Ike’s aftermath

THE Revolution’s efforts to protect human lives from the devastating Hurricane Ike have been gigantic. The figure of more than 2.5 million people sheltered and the use of some 10,000 means of transport without a single accident being reported is a demonstration of the exemplary discipline of our people and the effectiveness of the measures taken, even when their implementation involved challenges and risks.

In all honesty, the loss of seven human lives in the aftermath of the recent hurricane was essentially not just a direct consequence of the effects of Ike, but failure to strictly observe measures established by the Civil Defense system. That was confirmed, in every case, by the combination of reasons resulting in that fatal outcome. The victims were:

Pascual Villafaña Rivera, 35 years old, resident of the city of Camagüey, who decided late at night to leave the house of a relative where he was being sheltered and return to his own home, which did not meet the conditions to provide safety. At that moment, a tree fell, causing a wall to collapse on top of him.

Carmelina Diéguez Santiesteban, 74 years old, of Holguín province, lived in a very vulnerable house and refused to be evacuated to a safe place, despite the insistence of local authorities who tried to persuade her of the danger of remaining in that place. The effects of the winds caused the house to collapse, resulting in her death.

Antonio Mendoza Peña, 55 years old, a resident of Santiago de Cuba province. When he left the house of a neighbor where he was being sheltered, he was warned by those present that he was committing an imprudent action. He did not obey their appeals, and flung himself into a creek that had risen, and drowned.

Pedro Corso Soto, 76, and Angel Sánchez Cabello, 35, of Villa Clara province, who were taking down the antenna from their home, but were not affected at that time by hurricane winds. It was determined that the cause was the fall of the antenna onto the electrical cable, immediately electrocuting both.

Pedro Pablo Gutiérrez Cervantes, 55, was trapped under rubble after the collapse of a old three-story building on the Malecón seaside promenade in the Centro Habana neighborhood of Havana. The preliminary investigation of this incident showed that González Cervantes and his family were evacuated opportunely, and without waiting for the appropriate authorization returned to the building where they lived, where this unfortunate accident later occurred.

Carlos Velázquez Pérez, 53, a resident of Puerto Padre in Las Tunas province, and who was on the evacuation committee, headed for home to rest on the evening of Sunday the 7th. She took a pillow and lay down under her bed, where she fell asleep. When the winds became strong, the wall that was being built on the top floor of her neighbor’s house fell, killing her. Her body was found by a nephew on Wednesday when he passed by on the 10th.

The Cuban Civil Defense system, recognized for its effectiveness in dealing with meteorological events of this magnitude, guarantees the protection of the entire population and their economic resources; however, the causes of the unfortunate events described here demonstrate the necessity of following with discipline the measures that have been established and reiterated by Civil Defense authorities with the objective of avoiding these painful human losses and the mourning of families that follows.

General Staff of the Civil Defense

Source: Granma

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