Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Briefed on Preparations

FL1509015988 Havana Radio Rebelde Network in Spanish 2301 GMT 14 Sep 88

[Text]  Commander in Chief Fidel Castro today stressed the need to work
quickly and cautiously in repairing the damage from the hurricane, which
has not yet been assessed but is expected to be minor.

During his visit today to Pinar del Rio Province, he expressed concern for
the affects Gilbert may have on the Mexican islands in the Yucatan
Peninsula and he was interested in the measures taken against the
hurricane.  He asked if the Mexican people had been informed about the
damage it could cause.

Fidel Ramos, member of the PCC Central Committee and president of the
provincial Defense Council in Pinar del Rio, said that a Mexican radio
operator had received detailed information on the hurricane just as the
commander in chief expressed his concern for the Mexican ships that might
could be out fishing.

The commander in chief also learned that 12,000 residents of Pinar del Rio
were mobilized to carry out evacuation tasks which benefited approximately
100,000 people, including 22,000 students of the [name indistinct] school
in Sandino municipality, which was the area most affected by the hurricane

Fidel also learned that all the province's ships were in safe places and he
used a map to better analyze the information.

He said it was essential that the residents of Pinar del Rio finish the
bridge over the Guama River, since this is the only way floods can be
avoided in the capital of the province.

Friends, the commander in chief said that the energy expended by a
hurricane is equal to that of several nuclear bombs and hurricane Gilbert
has been moving an enormous mass of air and water for a week over a 100-km
area.  It seems like a monster with a life of its own, that can organize
and disorganize itself at will, said Fidel.

I once saw a hurricane on radar from La Gran Piedra, said Fidel.  It was
like a car, he added; it stopped before it entered Guantanamo and then it
moved and hit the city.

Fidel spoke about the effectiveness of the radar in La Gran Piedra, since
it located the hurricane 400 km from the Cuban coast.  He added that Pinar
del Rio also has no problem in locating hurricanes because it has radar in
Bajada, which is practically at the western-most point of Cuba.

The commander in chief then toured areas damaged by Gilbert's winds in Cabo
San Antonio, which has been declared a nature reserve by the Cuban Academy
of Sciences and the UNESCO due to the richness of its native flora and
fauna and the fact that there are animal and plant species there in danger
of extinction.