Old crises are overflowing

A lightning flash seems to have caused last week’s deadly fire that saw four petroleum-filled super tankers explode in Cuba’s Bay of Matanzas.The factors that influenced this occurrence, and how we reacted to it are still under scrutiny by the authorities. In other words, were there adequate and sufficient means to combat such a catastrophe in the most important supertanker base in the country?

We know that there are four deceased and at least 10 missing as a result. Alexander Ávalos, second in command of the Fire Department, said during a TV interview that the four tanks had been “melted, and the structure collapsed.”

If things continue as they are, the greatest fire in history will have been defeated, but not its consequences.

The Matanzas supertanker base, where weeks ago a Soviet tanker docked and unloaded 700,000 barrels of oil, suffered a loss of about 40% to 45% of what was stored, it has been calculated.

And the impact of the damage flows in two directions, but mainly in the already highly critical and overexploited Thermoelectric Power Plants in the country. As Cubans are likely to exclaim: More blackouts and less whiteouts (when the lights are turned on), a fact supported by government announcements of future blackouts throughout the country. And the examples abound: the municipality of CentroHabana reported losing power for 8 hours; areas of Miramar and Playa, 12 hours. In Camaguey there were areas where it reached 20 hours and so on in the other provinces. 

The impact on domestic life? All you need to see are the people’s faces. Now imagine how it has affected​​ the productive centers of the national economy…

Therefore the question to ask is not one that challenges the unquestionable strength and courage to face the consequences of last week’s fire, as is the case. The crux lies in anticipating such catastrophes. We have been dragging around the structural crisis that we are suffering under for years, and alerted for some time now by important economists, sociologists, regular Cubans and socialists. 

The old crises are overflowing. And we are mired in them.