Cuba needs the help of her sister island and YOU

Cuba needs the help of her sister island and YOU

August 16 – After a recent, massive fire in Cuba, residents of Key West are looking to help the people and family on the island with medical equipment and supplies.

Tony Yaniz, a Key West resident organizing fundraising efforts to help Cuba, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about the fires and how people can help.  

In 2019, the Cuban ambassador to DC came to Key West and the islands were declared sister islands.

Yaniz said, “I’ve been trying to reunite Cuba and Key West culturally and historically – this has nothing to do with politics – for over 40 years.”

A massive fire at an oil refinery a week ago in Cuba has created a serious crisis. It began with a lightning strike that hit a storage tank and adjoining tanks also caught fire and the blaze quickly spread. It destroyed about 40% of Cuba’s main fuel supply and shuttered it’s only super tanker port.

The blaze burned even days after the fire began. It has since been put out, but the damage is massive.

Yaniz said, “The situation is so drastic there. They don’t have gloves. They don’t have antibiotics, saline solution. They’re using the old fashioned little fans that the women used to use back in the day to try to fan the burn victims. So they reached out to us and they said you’re the sister island, could you help? So that’s what we’ve been trying to do.”

People in Key West have stepped up.

Rotary Club of Key West and Noon Club of Key West have set up their website to get donations.

Yaniz has also asked the city of Key West if it would be feasible to send a team of firefighters to Cuba to help.

Yaniz said, “We’ve got a collection now to be able to purchase the medical supplies and we have a plane that will get them down there. Anybody that has every visited a burn unit can tell you how bad the situation must be there.”

After 62 years of an embargo, maybe now is the time to reach out and help.

Yaniz said, “We’re going to…do what a sister island does. Cuba is very excited. We’re just trying to reunite the two islands. I know it’s complicated. This here is a chance to show that we are a sister island.”

The funds will go directly towards medical equipment and supplies.

Yaniz said, “Somebody said got a buddy in Denver that’s got six pallets of latex gloves. We’ll take them. Send them down.”

There are still a dozen people that are unaccounted for in Cuba since the fires broke out. Key West has the technology to find them. Cuba doesn’t.

Yaniz said, “One of people said in 1800, you used to send your firefighters to train here, so now let’s send your guys to come back here to train us. I think it would be a great way to show that we are, in fact, sister islands and we care about each other.”

An event at Key West Theater will be held in the future where all proceeds will go toward helping Cuba purchase medical supplies.

Mike Stapleford of KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM said, “What you’re doing is commendable. We certainly want to help.”

Yaniz said, “My cousin got here from Cuba about four days ago and I said let me take you to a traditional Cuban breakfast. He said, what? I said coffee, milk, bread and butter. He said well in Cuba, there’s no coffee, there’s no milk, there’s no bread and there’s no butter. So I think that highlights how dire the situation is in Cuba.”

Stapleford agreed, “We need to keep that in mind and continue the efforts of us as a city island helping our friends and family and loved ones in Cuba.”

Anyone who would like to help is asked to make a check out to Rotary Club of Key West Foundation and send it to P.O. Box 1194 at 11107 Key Plaza, Key West.