14ymedio, Havana, 4 September 2022 — José Conrado Rodríguez, a Cuban Catholic priest will officiate this Tuesday a mass in memory of the victims of the fire at the Supertanker Base in Matanzas. The ceremony, also accompanied by Father José Lázaro Vélez, will take place at 7:00 p.m. at Saint Raymond’s Church in Miami.
During the celebration there will also be a prayer for “peace, justice, national reconciliation and freedom for all Cubans.”
Conrado, born in 1951 in Santiago de Cuba, is one of the most recognizable critical voices against the government in the Cuban ecclesial scene. Accustomed to harassment by State Security, he was the author of two open letters to Cuban leaders and several books that address the issue of faith and civil society within totalitarianism.
The first of the letters, addressed to Fidel Castro in 1994, demanded that the president be held accountable for the resounding economic crisis of the Special Period. The second, sent to Raúl Castro in 2009, pointed out the need for a change for Cuba, to be in tune with the favorable international panorama and to improve the island’s own situation.
In 2021 and after several months without being able to leave Trinidad, the city where he works as a priest, Conrado gave an interview to 14ymedio about the “rise in social temperature” in Cuba. In his words, he attributed to the Cuban government a “very high share of responsibility” for the country’s misery, and pointed out that the authorities “are in no mood to listen, but that they will have to listen.”
This Saturday a “presidential decree” was issued to posthumously award six members of the Matanzas Fire Department who died in the fire
While representatives of various religious factions and civil society pay their respects to the deceased, the government has made their deaths a political cause.
This Saturday a “presidential decree” was issued to posthumously award six members of the Matanzas Fire Department who died in the fire, who received the June 6 Order, Second Degree.
The decoration was collected by relatives of the firefighters Dios del Nazco, Luis Ángel Álvarez and Pablo Ángel López, as well as the young recruits Leo Alejandro Doval, Adriano Rodríguez and Fabián Naranjo, who were completing their Compulsory Military Service at the time of the accident.
Since several relatives of the deceased, members of civil society and independent media denounced that young Military Service recruits had been sent to the front line of the fire, the Cuban government has done everything possible to rid itself of that responsibility.
The authorities have launched a national campaign to present the death of firefighters, who fell “in the line of duty,” as a “heroic epic.”. With medals, acts and speeches they have tried to cover up the negligence in the management of the fire and the death of several adolescents who did not have the training or the necessary equipment to face a disaster of this magnitude.
With 16 dead and 146 injured, according to official figures, the explosion at the Matanzas Supertanker Base has been described as the worst industrial disaster in Cuba’s history.
Although groups of skeletal remains were located after the fire was extinguished, the Cuban authorities admitted that it was impossible to identify them.
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