National Network on Cuba – The Saratoga Hotel disaster

Photo: Bill Hackwell

(5/7/22) edited 8:30am Cuba Time

On Friday morning an explosion occurred at the Saratoga Hotel in Old Havana. While details are still emerging, officials have ruled out the possibility that it was an attack and attribute it to gas being transferred from a truck. At the moment 50 adults and 14 children have been hospitalized, and 21 adults and 1 minor have lost their lives. Not only has the Saratoga Hotel suffered structural damage, but so have 23 other nearby buildings, including 15 apartments which completely collapsed. The headquarters of the Yoruba Association and the Baptist Church have also been damaged.

The speed and efficiency with which Cuba has been able to mobilize in response is a testament to strong organization and the resilience of the island. In the chaos, five priorities for the Cuban government have emerged: (1) take care of the affected families, (2) recovery of the hotel and damaged homes, (3) relocation of the children from the school located next to the hotel and recovery of that educational center, (4) rescue of all affected facilities, and (5) timely information to the population.

Tragedy has been met with everyday citizens “who attended the place with a lot of discipline and willing[ness] to help in anything”, according to Reinaldo Garcia Zapata, Governor of Havana. This included young people joining the search for missing parties and lending their hands to dig through the rubble that remains. By 8 pm Eastern, Havana blood banks received 1,500 donations.

The National Network on Cuba offers our condolences to all those directly affected, the Cuban people, their government and their Party. We stand in solidarity with all Cubans across the island who are reeling from this recent tragedy, and struggle daily to defend their national sovereignty against the ongoing U.S. blockade that impacts every part of Cuban life.

We call on our NNOC member organizations, U.S. elected officials, and all people of goodwill to strengthen our efforts to end the U.S. economic, financial, commercial and media war against this island. Cuba is a beacon for the preservation and defense of life and human rights.

Under NNOC, several solidarity projects have emerged over these last two years of the pandemic. Already, they include Puentes de Amor caravans, resolutions from cities across the country now representing more than 41 million U.S. residents, Project EL PAN food donations, the reconstruction campaigns that will be launched; solidarity and educational trips to Cuba like the May Day Brigade (which currently has a delegation in country and stands in support of the Cuban people), Venceremos Brigade and IFCO/Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravans, which bring people to learn and shine light on the truth about the heroic Cuban people and their revolutionary project.

It is no secret that Cuba is one of the few places in the world where the right to free health care, free education, sports and culture is constitutionally guaranteed; where you are not asked for your insurance before getting medical attention, nor thrown out because you can’t pay the medical bill, where the quality of education is not determined by property taxes and where foreclosures and evictions do not exist.

Let’s stand with Cuba as she has stood for so many other countries during times of peace and disaster! Let’s give her all we’ve got!

#VamosConTodo #FuerzaCuba

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