[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: The "Mercenary Hurricane"

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The "Mercenary Hurricane"

Photo courtesy of AP

That's what's left of a house in Guines, Havana province, after the passage of Hurricane Dennis.

10 dead. Countless people without power. Up to 30 inches of rain in some areas.

The Miami Herald has continued to compile reports from Cuba in the aftermath of Dennis, with several additions from today.

The Sun-Sentinel also has an article on the damage, including a link to an NBC interview with reporter Vanessa Bauza in Havana.

As many Floridians know all too well...being without power for any length of time is incredibly frustrating and stressful. As of right now, there are still thousands without power in South Florida from our brush with Dennis. We know we'll be getting our power back pretty soon. However, for Cubans it is much different. This is the reality that faces many Cubans today as they come to the realization that they may be without power for days, possibly weeks as the following clearly shows:

Hearing earlier in the day on Cuban radio that Hurricane Dennis would come through Matanzas, a 55-year-old school office worker in Matanzas was glued to Radio Rebelde, unable to sleep, when the power went out.

''I was so nervous I kept calling the radio station because all I had working was my telephone,'' she said. ``We have nothing here, no candles, no water supplies, no battery powered radio to stay informed. The government gives us nothing and we have nothing.''

She said there was no damage to her house, nor others in the La Playa neighborhood in which she lives, but they have been without power and no water since around 12:30 a.m. Saturday.
She said she heard reports of downed power lines all over Matanzas and the surrounding towns -- the worst damage in Union de Reyes. One detail being passed around between neighbors: A century's old tree in Parque Central, huge and once with roots deep into the ground, was uprooted -- quite a sight to behold.

``This will only add to our misery. Before this, we had nine and 12-hour (outages). Now we're expecting to be without electricity for a week to 10 days. And the water situation is horrible. Now we have to go with our bucket to get one bucket of water per person from a pipa (a truck that carries water) they'll bring in -- and I'll have to fight all these people to get my water. Like always, fights will break out. It will be horrible just horrible.''

She then began to openly rant against ''our lying, inept government'' and ``that liar [Fidel Castro], who is now obsessed with Chavez, Chavez, Chavez, and hasn't even delivered on his promise to distribute the rice cookers.''

While the lady suffers and wonders when she'll have running water and electricity, all fidel castro could think about was his obsession with "invaders" and "mercenaries":

"Not one to miss a dig at the United States, Fidel Castro on Friday referred to Dennis as ''the mercenary hurricane,'' because it entered Cuba through an area of Matanzas province that included the Bay of Pigs, site of the 1961 invasion by Cuban exiles sponsored by Washington.

Ever since, the invaders have been called ''mercenaries'' by the Cuban government.

Castro used the description several times while talking on the phone with Daniel Moreira, a Communist Party official from the Bay of Pigs region who reported that Dennis had ''landed'' in Matanzas and was being ``fought off.''

On Saturday, the daily Granma reported the telephone conversation under the headline: ``The mercenary hurricane was defeated.''


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