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The Conchita was not carried away by the wind

La Conchita“Dad, sit on the door, sit on the door that is going to open,” Claidel Barán said repeatedly to his father Raymand after the force of the wind from Hurricane Ian. Thus, with his back against the wood of the door, he spent the entire morning and part of the morning. And when it all happened, seeing the disasters around him, the first thing he did was go to the La Conchita factory, where he has worked for more than 10 years.

Upon arrival he found an open-air facility. More than 90% of the roofs of warehouses, production areas and other premises had blown up, but its workers, the desire to recover and the sense of belonging never went away. About 20 days later, when we arrived at the place, these were the testimonies that received us.

The night-early morning from September 26 to 27 will be unforgettable for Jesús González Arronte, one of the two directors of UEB that La Conchita has, who shows us in photos the disaster on the roofs, windows and doors of the factory. “The next day we started the recovery and in less than 10 days we were already producing, although we still have things to restore, especially roofs.”

The manager highlighted the high sense of belonging of the workers, despite the fact that more than half of the workforce had damage to their homes. “We are helping many of them and we have even sold them coal, eggs and some resources,” he says, which is confirmed by Raidel Crespo, one of those most affected by Ian’s impact. “I didn’t think they were going to help people so quickly. That speaks very well of real solidarity.”
“No one was summoned here to deal with the destruction. More than 100 colleagues showed up. That showed the love of the workers for their center, because we know the economic importance we have for the province and the country”, says Aracelys Ajete, general secretary of the union bureau, with optimism.

“Thanks to that, several production lines are already working. With our own strength we erected new roofs, collected fallen trees and cleaned the areas”, explains the veteran trade unionist who treasures 33 years of work in La Conchita in her body and spirit. “I remember other natural phenomena like Gustav, but I had never experienced something like this. Ian was devastating, but we will get up. Even a group of us went to La Coloma to help”.

United in life, and in business!
Yunia Castro has been in this factory for 13 years and suffered damage to her home, and even so, she returned to her workplace knowing the importance of resuming production, since not only Pinar del Río benefits, but also Artemisa, Mayabeque, Havana and other provinces.

“This situation has been difficult. Working hard at home and at the workplace is complicated, but there is no other option but to push forward, ”she says. “Ian affected my roof, however, La Conchita is like my house, that’s why I joined. This is where my salary comes from, the sustenance of my children, ”she confessed.

Yunia highlighted the interest of some of her managers and colleagues in helping her solve her damage. “Here we are a big family, we help each other and that is worth a lot”, she certified while she with a couple of screams, due to the intense noise of the production, she called her husband.

“I’m Martínez Álvarez, Director of Maintenance,” she said, although we barely heard him over the whistling of the equipment. “I can’t move from here now. The cyclone hit the company hard, although thanks to everyone’s efforts we have come out ahead. We have set foot on the ground because we have to produce, it cannot be stopped”.

Another veteran in these parts is Julio César de la Vega. He is from Havana, but he fell in love with a Pinar del Rio woman and has been in La Conchita for 36 years, now as head of the laboratory. “Here there were doors that the hurricane took with the frame and everything. We prepare because we have a cyclone culture. For example, sugar is collected days in advance, many raw materials are packed in tanks with lids and even then they are covered with canvas.

“The equipment is intact. The technology is not very modern, but we take care of it. Vinegar, compote for children and vitanova are being produced in this same workshop”, she informs as if he were wasting time joining his work.

“The secret of quality is putting love into it and counting on the good technologists and teachers we have,” acknowledges Julio César, who could not escape the baseball controversy because he is a fervent industrialist.

Before leaving and after touring the almost complete factory, we return to the dialogue with González Arronte. “The production plans will not be affected, only that it will force us to work more in double shifts, and of course our recovery is vital, because we produce food for the population. And now more are needed.”
One final idea we take from this group. “The idea is that the factory will be better when we finish the recovery”, emphasizes Arronte. “We put the cultural detail of the installation,” says Aracelys Ajete. “Journalist, this factory is emblematic, nobody stops us,” concludes Raymand, one of the many Pinar del Rio residents who will never forget the night his son asked him to sit at the door so that Ian would not enter his house.

( By: Joel Garcia, Daniel Martinez Rodriguez/ from Workers)

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