14ymedio, Havana, 9 August 2022 — With the fire at the Matanzas Supertanker Base out of control since Friday, August 5, and a population distressed by the consequences of the incident and the additional blackouts that are coming, the Cuban government begins to imply that the United States is reluctant to send aid to the island.
Thus, Johana Tablada, deputy director general for the United States of Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, in statements collected by Cubadebate, that the only thing that the northern neighbor has offered so far was “technical advice (talking by phone with our specialists)” and that the rest “does not depend on Cuba.”
However, according to US sources speaking to this newspaper, the problem is that Havana has not requested the aid through the proper diplomatic channels. In the same vein, Guena Rod, editor of the podcast 23yflagler.com, wrote on Facebook : “I am told that the US has been and is prepared to send everything available to extinguish the fire, but that due to the circumstances and regulations, they cannot send something that Cuba has not requested directly and through the appropriate channels. ”
Guena Rod asked his sources about the public call made by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, and they replied that “that helped, but that’s not how it works.”
Diplomacy experts explain to 14ymedio that although there is no international rule that requires establishing this type of relationship between countries in a certain way, the usual thing is to either send a letter signed by the president, prime minister or chancellor of a country, or issue a verbal note, and immediately establish a communication channel between the experts, not only for technical issues related to the problem, but also to smooth out any bureaucratic hurdle that the case entails, such as customs permits.
Such a communication by the Cuban government would, of course, entail formally admitting that it is asking the perpetual “enemy empire” for help, something it appears to be reluctant to do.
“The United States is carefully monitoring the situation in Matanzas and is waiting in case Cuba requires humanitarian or technical assistance,” the US embassy in Havana tweeted on Monday, insisting hours later on “supporting the people and organizations that are sending humanitarian assistance goods in response to the Matanzas fire. Our team is here to facilitate the export of humanitarian assistance to the Cuban people.”
Meanwhile, the statements of Alexander Ávalos Jorge, second chief of the National Extinction Department of the Cuban Fire Department, leave no doubt that the incident that has devastated the Matanzas Supertanker Base since Friday is still out of control and will continue to be so. “It is impossible to calculate,” he admits, when it will be controlled. “We could still be looking at days.”
In his press conference this Monday, the military official also acknowledged that the exact damage to both the third and fourth tanks affected by the fire, of the eight that make up the facility, close to the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric plant, the largest on the island, is unknown. That plant, which stopped working this Monday due to lack of fuel and water.
“The high temperatures have made work very difficult and it has been committing itself in a chain reaction and it has been practically impossible,” to stop the fires admitted Ávalos Jorge, on a day in which large explosions continued to occur, and were even broadcast live by the state television.
According to the official, the rest of the tanks, of 50,000 cubic meters each (50 million liters), are also “compromised.”
The latest explosions and the profusion of smoke at ground level frustrated the use of the hydraulic pump brought by Venezuela, publicized by the official press as “key” to containing the flames. In fact, according to CiberCuba with a source in a fire chief present at the scene of the incident, seven more people were injured this Monday, including several foreign technicians.
So far, the authorities have only reported one deceased, firefighter Juan Carlos Santana Garrido, 60, from Cienfuegos, whose body was recovered on Saturday.
The number of disappeared dropped from 16 to 14, after “two people appeared in hospitals,” said Susely Morfa, first secretary of the Provincial Committee of the PCC in Matanzas.
Despite all of them being called ’firefighters’ by government sources, many of them are 18 and 19-year-olds who were in military service, as testified by the desperate calls from family members on social networks.
A total of 24 wounded, out of a total of 125, are still hospitalized.
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