They walk in single file, uniformed from boots to helmet, toward the fire.

Photo: Irene Pérez/ Cubadebate.

In the beginning was the fire, the big bang.

A bloody lightning streaked through the Matanzas night.

One of the huge tanks that stored fuel caught fire.

Men and women, brave people, went to meet the flames, to contain that igneous monster so that it would not end up devouring everything in its path.

In the first battles they were defeated;

several of them died.

Those of us who, from a distance, were learning about that fierce combat, were beginning to realize that this was not a common fire.

It was the first hours of one of the worst disasters that our country has suffered in its history.

The best of Cuba came to congregate in Matanzas

: firefighters from all over the country, determined to avenge their fallen comrades with the irreversible death of the flames;

journalists who took us by the hand through the soot, fear and smoke;

the invaluable army of white coats, healing the wounded, calming the relatives, putting the shoulder for those who mourned the victims of the sinister.

Some of the best of our portion of humanity was also in Matanzas: brothers from Mexico and Venezuela who responded promptly to Cuba's call.

The war against the fire lasted several days, but finally the smoke turned gray and then white, the high flames were extinguished.

Those of us who love Cuba allow ourselves a minute of happiness in the midst of the pain for the deceased, in the midst of the certainty that, with the lost fuel, everything would be even more difficult in the future.

It was a victory, yes, another one, although we do not celebrate it in solemn respect for those who perished, although we know that we still have many challenges and difficulties to overcome.

In addition to its apparent political sign, the haters, those who attack us or are accomplices of our aggressors, cannot even recognize that victory.

They are bad-hearted people who, secretly or openly, rejoiced at the power of the fire, at the stridency of the explosions;

people who invoked karma or a supposed divine punishment, deserved, either by the Family Code project or by the decades of socialism;

frustrated and losers who saw in the force of Nature the only option to obtain that "change" for which they lacked courage and intelligence.

Unable to celebrate the courage of our firefighters, givers of blue, they tried to turn the triumph over adversity in Matanzas into a campaign against compulsory military service.

And yes, it is true that excellent men, of different ages and origins, died fighting the fire.

And it is also true that, in these times, we must rethink military service, not only in its content, but also in its voluntary or compulsory nature, both for men and women: it is not logical that we are champions of equity and continue to validate those kinds of distinctions.

But launching that campaign at this precise moment is nothing more than abject opportunism.

When the story of that bloody lightning bolt that crossed the night of Matanzas is written, when the terrible battle between life and death is remembered,

it will be read very clearly that we were not the poisonous ones, the intriguers, the distorters;

everything that distinguishes us will be seen with perfect clarity


You can't be good if you wish bad for Cuba and for me, even if it's for a minute in the middle of mourning, I'm glad to recognize that I'm on the right side.

Specialized forces work tirelessly to control the fire.

Photo: Irene Pérez/ Cubadebate.

(Taken from Granma)