Cuban independent journalist Yoe Suarez reports on how Christian organizations in communist Cuba are uniting in an effort to help fellow Cubans affected by the tragic Hotel Saratoga explosion.
Looking death in the eye, giving blood: Christian solidarity in the aftermath of the Saratoga explosion
In Cuba, Christian associations such as the Patmos Institute or the Evangelical League offered their resources to those in need.
Pastor Abel Pérez Hernández ran, and he was one of the Cubans who arrived at the foot of the disaster. Part of the Hotel Saratoga, one of the most eye-catching buildings in the centre of Havana, exploded due to a gas leak, according the authorities.
“Today I saw death close to me, just as I was carrying in my arms the body of one of the people who died in the explosion”, wrote the pastor.
Before the woman died in his arms, Abel comforted her saying: “Christ was victorious on the cross of Calvary”.
“Today I discovered that I am weak! That I am more vulnerable than I thought, that I can do nothing unless God is with me”, he said.
Like him, dozens of citizens assisted the victims amidst the many debris and the chaotic atmosphere. Most of the injured and dead are employees of the tourism sector who were preparing to reopen the Saratoga after the two-year peak of Covid-19.
Cuban regime authorities quickly ruled out that the explosion was the result of “sabotage”, to which Havana lawyer Miguel Porres asked on his Twitter: “What difference does it make for the effects caused?”
The damage to the Saratoga (managed by the military conglomerate Gaesa through its hotel subsidiary Gaviota) is significant, as is the damage to other nearby buildings such as the heritage-listed Martí Theatre and El Calvario (Calvary) church, where the headquarters of the Western Baptist Convention are located.
The dome of the church, one of the oldest of its kind in Latin America according to historian Carlos Sebastian Hernández, partially collapsed, which is why it was impossible to worship there this Sunday. The religious institution reported no loss of life.
Havana residents like Christian Yordanka Battle Moré donated blood at points set up by the Ministry of Public Health, the only entity on the island that manages medical services.
Yordanka, a member of an evangelical church, was moved to donate blood for the victims by the idea that “faith without works is dead”.
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