Hurricane Irma, with its destructive power, battered our island for 72 hours, beginning the morning of September 8 until this Sunday afternoon. With winds that surpassed 250 kilometers per hour on occasion, it crossed the north of the country from Baracoa - hit hard by another phenomenon of this type almost a year ago - to the outskirts of Cárdenas. However, given its immense size, practically no province was spared its effects.
Described by experts as the largest ever to form in the Atlantic, this meteorological phenomenon caused severe damage to the country, which, precisely because of its scope, has yet to be quantified. A preliminary view shows evidence of an impact on housing, the electrical system, and agriculture.
It also struck some of our principal tourist destinations, but damage will be repaired before the beginning of the high season. We have on hand for this the human resources and materials needed, given that this constitutes one of the principal sources of income in the national economy.
These have been difficult days for our people, who, in a few hours time, have seen what was constructed with great effort hit by a devastating hurricane. Images from the last few hours speak for themselves, as does the spirit of resistance and victory of our people that is regenerated with every adversity.
In these difficult circumstances, the unity of Cubans has prevailed, the solidarity among neighbors, discipline in response to instructions issued by the National Civil Defense General Staff and Defense Councils at all levels, the professionalism of specialists at the Institute of Meteorology, the immediacy of our communications media and its journalists, the support of mass organizations, as well as the cohesion of National Defense Council leadership bodies. Special mention for all of our women, including leaders of the Party and government, who with aplomb and maturity provided leadership and confronted the difficult situation.
The days that are coming will be ones of much work, during which the strength and indestructible confidence in the Revolution of Cubans will again be demonstrated. This is not a time to mourn, but to construct again that which the winds of Irma attempted to destroy.
With organization, discipline, and the coordination of all our structures, we will move forward as we have done on previous occasions. No one should be fooled; the task we have before us is huge, but with a people like ours, we will win the most important battle: recovery.
At this critical moment, the Cuban Workers’ Federation and the National Association of Small Farmers, along with all other mass organizations, must redouble efforts to eliminate as quickly as possible the trail left by this destructive event.
One principle remains immovable: the Revolution will leave no one unprotected and measures are already being adopted to ensure that no Cuban family is left to their fate.
As has been customary every time a meteorological phenomenon has struck us, there have been many expressions of solidarity received from all parts of the world. Heads of state and government, political organizations, and friends in solidarity organizations have expressed the desire to help us, who we thank in the name of more than eleven million Cuban men and women.
We face the recovery with the example of Comandante en Jefe de la Revolución Cubana, Fidel Castro Ruz, who, with his unwavering confidence in victory and iron will, taught us that nothing is impossible. In these difficult hours, his legacy makes us strong and unites us.
Raúl Castro Ruz
Havana, September 10, 2017