Strong explosions shake the city of Santiago de Cuba

Two strong explosions shook the city of Santiago de Cuba at noon on Friday. Both were related to dynamite overload in the Guaos Quarry to recover arrears in production of aggregates for the construction of houses.

The shock wave from the detonations shook windows, ledges and even the roofs of the peripheral neighborhoods of the northeast area, which lives in tension due to the climate of insecurity induced by a wave of robberies.

The first burst occurred at 11:00 AM, while the second, more powerful, occurred around 12:00 PM.

But nevertheless, it was not until late at night that the authorities toured the affected neighborhoods. In an attempt to placate the victims, they explained that “more explosives had been planted by mistake than they should have,” without specifying whether a government commission was investigating the incident.

“Everything happened out of the blue. I thought they were bombing or one of those powder kegs where they keep old and disused explosives had exploded.“, commented Dalia, a neighbor of the Marimón neighborhood, whose bathroom wall cracked and she almost burned herself when she was finishing lunch.

For Miriam González Carulla, a resident of Micro 8, an area of ​​the José Martí district where the rumblings were felt most strongly, “the noise was deafening, everything wobbled and most ran away”.

“I had a similar experience at my father’s house, when on June 5, 2017 several explosions were recorded at a military base located in the town of Ti Arriba, in the municipality of Songo La Maya,” recalled Daulema, a resident of the Camino de la Isla, whose kitchen roof fell in at her house. She and other neighbors took refuge where they could.

Others residents in Agüero, Indaya, Barca de Oro and the suburbs of Calle 13, a strip of unhealthy neighborhoods also known as the “Cordon de la Miseria” in Santiago de Cuba criticized the Government for not alerting the people through the press, nor foresee the consequences of events like this in an area where the houses are in very poor condition.

The rumblings were so powerful that they were heard at the Antonio Maceo Airport and the towns of El Cobre, El Cristo and Siboney., located between 20 and 30 kilometers from the quarry.
The police demanded that citizens delete from their cell phones the videos and photos of the high column of smoke that rose in the northeast mountain range that surrounds the city of Santiago.

When trying to get to the Guaos Quarry, DIARIO DE CUBA found that the military had surrounded the perimeter and did not allow access to residents.

The brother of one of the workers denounced, on condition of anonymity, that “now they will make firewood from the fallen tree, when those responsible are those who deliver expired dynamite”, alluding to the fact that the workers place more load than recommended due to the obsolescence of the material explosive.

At dawn on Saturday, the government and the media remained silent and without giving an explanation to the people of Santiago.

Although there were no human losses, Those affected do not have money or resources to repair the damage or replace the items that hit the floor when they fell.

In Santiago de Cuba, a meter of sand is priced at 100 CUP, a meter of gravel is 200, a bag of stone dust is 350, the bag of cement is priced between 1,000 and 1,500, and the price of a foot of wood depends on what the farmers ask for. .

Since 2007 the State makes investments to raise the productive rate of the Guaos Quarry, with more than 45 years of exploitation. Along with the Mucaral and Siboney mills, it is responsible for supporting the housing construction needs of the province.

On that date, the official Cuban News Agency announced that the territory would raise the monthly production of sand, stone dust and gravel with the installation of a vertical mill capable of delivering 90 cubic meters of aggregates per hour.

Eight years later, and without achieving the planned objectives, the newspaper Granma announced the assembly of three new mills, which together would produce 50,000 cubic meters of construction materials per month.

However, in 2014 the commission of the National Assembly of People’s Power that supervised the performance of the materials industry in ten provinces, 40 municipalities and 26 units concluded that the results of the Cantera de los Guaos continued to decline.

In his report, he confirmed that the documentation for its assembly and technological operation was incomplete, which caused delays and production failures. In the opinion of the supervisors, the Swedish technology used in the quarry behaved well, “but the Chinese seems weaker and suffers greater wear on its accessories due to the hardness of the ore.” It also did not have the logistics to solve the breakages, the water supply was poor and the tires of the trucks used to extract the ore only lasted two months.

Today these difficulties persist. In mid-2021 DIARIO DE CUBA denounced the violations within the housing construction program in Santiago de Cuba, where some 900 victims of Hurricane Sandy have been waiting for around a decade for houses that had supposedly been delivered to them.

When analyzing the issue, Governor Miguel Diaz-Canel criticized the province for failing to comply with the 2020 housing plan and have a serious deterioration of their housing fund.

Díaz Canel said that “although resources are lacking, what is lacking is sensitivity and rigor at work”; criterion supported by Ramiro Valdés Menéndez.

On this matter, the mayor, Beatriz Johnson Urrutia, said: “explaining what happened is as difficult as telling more than a thousand families from Santiago that in 2020, due to our irresponsibility, we will not build their homes.”

Closing out 2021, other officials acknowledged that the housing plan was affected in 1,255 houses.