The search and rescue brigade which left for Ecuador following the earthquake which hit the country’s northern coast on April 16, returned to Cuba on the evening of April 27. The brigade members were received at Havana’s José Martí International Airport by Marcia Cobas, a member of the Party Central Committee and deputy minister of Public Health, as well as Brigade General and Interior Minister (Minint), José Luis Mesa Silva.
The group composed of 29 rescue workers traveled to Ecuador where they helped with recovery efforts over 10 days, together with health professionals from the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specialized in Disaster Situations and Large-Scale Epidemics.
Upon receiving the delegation, Cobas highlighted the importance of the mission which saw collaboration between “health personnel and Minint officials,” for the first time.
Cobas noted that the brigade’s work in Ecuador was short but intense; highlighting the team’s rigorous and disciplined efforts, all the while supported by experienced health professionals.
On behalf of the Minint leadership, Colonel Luis Carlos Guzmán Matos, chief of the Cuban Fire Department, congratulated the team on their work and stated that “once more Cuba’s name was held high with displays of solidarity and altruism.”
Colonel Lázaro Herrera Hernández, head of the search and rescue team expressed his pride at returning home in the knowledge that they had fulfilled their duty.
The brigade members spoke briefly about the moving scenes they witnessed and experienced in Ecuador, something they will surely never forget.
“I was in Manabí and Porto Viejo. The gratitude shown by people who had lost everything, by children who came up to us and called us heroes, by people who brought us food at our camp, was immense,” said Rafael Velázquez Lalana.
Edel Llópiz Sáchez noted that the greatest reward for his work was seeing the expressions of appreciation on people’s faces.
Each brigade member received a letter of recognition from the Ministry of Public Health and reproduction of a painting of the leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, by Ernesto Rancaño.
Also in attendance at the welcome home ceremony was Regla Angulo, director of the Central Unit of Medical Cooperation, in addition to other Minint officials.