Friendship Association Supports Cuban People Recover from Explosion at Oil Storage Facility

A veteran journalist and many Vietnamese people have raised funds to help Cuba recover after a massive fire at an oil storage facility which started in Matanzas province on August 5.

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On August 11th, the veteran journalist Vu Van Au, one of the first Vietnamese graduates in Cuba, on has donated to the Cuban people VND 100 million (more than USD 4.200) to facilitate the recovery from the explosions at the Supertanker Base in the Industrial Zone of Matanzas and their after-effects.

Friendship Association Supports Cuban People Amid Explosion at Cuba’s Largest Oil Storage Facility
Vu Van Au (white T-shirt), one of the first Vietnamese graduates in Cuba, made a symbolic handover to Nguyen Thang Dong, president of the club of Vietnamese alumni once studied in Cuba. Photo courtesy of the club

Augusto, the name he acquired on the island when he studied between 1961 and 1964, symbolically handed over the amount to the club of Vietnamese alumni who once studied in Cuba. His altruistic donation has been taken from the payment of copyright received by more than three years of work in the elaboration of a Vietnamese-Spanish dictionary.

Au served as a translator for revolutionary leader Ernesto Che Guevara in 1964, when Vietnamese hero Dinh Nup, known as the Hero of the Mountain, visited Havana, and on more than one occasion, for leader Fidel Castro.

Between 1966 and 1971 he worked as a correspondent in Havana for the Vietnamese news agency (VNA) and from that time he proudly remembers that he worked closely with Cuban news agency Prensa Latina (PL).

His family is also a family with three generations studied in Cuba, including himself, his son and grandson. And this year, at the age of 91, he completed the compilation and printing of a Vietnamese-Spanish dictionary.

“Learning Spanish and becoming a professional, meeting Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, having so many experiences there, make me live part of my life in Cuba,” Au said.

The club of Vietnamese alumni once studied in Cuba and the Vietnam – Cuba Friendship Association also are launching a fundraising campaign this week, to make a contribution to respond to the incident and its ramifications on the island.

They set up a bank account in which, donations began to arrive immediately, while messages of solidarity, encouragement and confidence are multiplying daily on social networks.

As of August 11, the club has received donation from 192 individuals and organizations with a total amount of over VND 249 million (about USD 10.600).

Friendship Association Supports Cuban People Amid Explosion at Cuba’s Largest Oil Storage Facility
Members of the club of Vietnamese alumni once studied in Cuba visit the Cuban Embassy in Hanoi and share with the Ambassador Orlando Hernandez Guillen, about the damages caused by the devastating fire and the obstacles faced by the Cuban people. Photo courtesy of the club

The largest industrial disaster in the Cuban history so far has left one person dead, 14 missing and 128 injured, including seven in critical condition. The assessment of economic damage has only just begun.

This sudden loss of fuel and storage capacity infrastructure caused by the fire is likely to aggravate the energy situation in the island and contribute to outward migration.

Ambassador Nguyen Phuong Nga, president of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations (VUFO) and Vu Hai Ha, member of the Party Central Committee, chairman of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee and president of the Vietnam – Cuba Friendship Association have sent messages of sympathy to Fernando Gonzalez Llort, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and Yolanda Ferrer Gomez, president of the Cuba – Vietnam Friendship Association.

In the message, they expressed solidarity with the Cuban people over the fire at a fuel depot in Matanzas city and offered condolences to the families of the victims of the accident.

The club of Vietnamese alumni once studied in Cuba also visited the Cuban Embassy in Hanoi to extend their sympathy to Ambassador Orlando Nicolas Hernandez Guillien and the current difficulties the Cuban people are facing.

Vietnam was one of the first countries to send a message of solidarity to Cuba after the blaze occurred at a fuel depot in Matanzas city.

Hannah Nguyen