This past Wednesday, March 26, 20-year-old Lisandra Guerra became the 500-meter time-trial cycling world champion in the World Track Cycling Championship held in Manchester, Great Britain, following intense competition with athletes from 37 different countries. Fruit of our educational and sports system, of our talented youth and women, we can sincerely and legitimately feel proud of this victory. Credit where credit is due! Today, however, I shan’t write about sports. That same day, on the 26th, the Henry Reeve Contingent Detachment that had been involved in relief work in Peru returned to Cuba, undefeated.
The earthquake took place on August 15, 2007. It measured 7.9 on the Richter scale. The detachment arrived in Cuzco on August 18. Their two-month relief work plan had been designed to address the most urgent needs.
The real needs were to require more than double this time. They saw 153, 292 patients, 65,299 of whom were visited in their homes. They remained in Peru until March 25, 2008, seven months and seven days.
Dr. Juan Carlos Dupuy Núñez, who has been in charge of the Henry Reeve Contingent since its creation in September 19, 2005 and was the head of the Cuban medical brigade in Pakistan, headed the detachment. Several members of the detachment had done relief work in Pakistan and Indonesia. Not one of these 77 men and women turned a deaf ear to the call of duty.
The glorious pages in history they have written cannot be erased. Such dignity and conscience are a bulwark against the rusted armaments of imperialism.
In view of the Peruvian people’s gratitude and acknowledgement, it was morally impossible for us to leave the country without having other members of the Contingent travel there to undertake relief work in their place.
I shall be writing about China in coming days. The material has already been written and needs only some minor touches.
I didn’t even try to write about the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Cuito Cuanavale battle, the loftiest example of our people’s internationalist conscience. I would prefer that those who witnessed the heroic events in person, during a time that was to last, not one day, but months, speak in honor of the glorious fallen.
Yesterday, I watched the Round Table program on Cuba’s congress of intellectuals and artists, about to start. There is no doubt in my mind the debates will be extremely interesting.
We shall be alert, following developments, as Bush gets up to his old tricks in Bucharest and the Black Sea the first days of April, as we have already denounced. And keep an eye on the Vice! This was a typical saying in the days Cuba was a neo-colony, meant to keep people on their guard.
Fidel Castro Ruz
March 29, 2008