So Long… Forever… Juraguá


In our little room, he told us that morning about the time he had spent in the USSR. He’d only been in Havana a few hours, after an Aeroflot plane had brought him back from his long sojourn in the land of Gorbachev. The gothic letters on his diploma showed he’d graduated from the university in some kind of engineering my childish mind couldn’t understand. It was the first time I’d heard about the Juraguá nuclear reactor, which was built in Cienfuegos in 1983. The recent arrival’s voice described an enormous VVER 440 reactor located in central Cuba as if it were a live dragon breathing its whiffs on us. Hundreds of young people, trained in research centers nearly 6,000 miles from home, would work there as atomic scientists. Millions and millions of rubles arriving from the Kremlin helped to construct what would be the pinnacle of our “tropical socialism,” the fundamental pillar of our energy independence.

Later I learned that this young enthusiast never worked as a nuclear engineer. The Soviet Union was dismembered just as the first of two planned reactors was 97% complete. Grass covered a good part of the site, and exposure to the elements broke down everything from pieces of the core, to the steam generators, the cooling pumps and the isolation valves. Juraguá became a new ruin, a monument to the delusions of grandeur left us by Soviet imperialism.

With his graying temples, while cutting metals in his new career as a lathe operator, the one-time expert told me now, “It was lucky we didn’t start it up.” According to what he and his colleagues had calculated, the chances of an nuclear accident at Juraguá were 15% more than at any other nuclear plant in the world. “We would have ended up with the island cut in half,” he said dramatically. I imagined a piece of the nation here and another over there, while a stubbornly smoking hole changed our national geography.

Now that the plant in Fukushima is spreading its residues, and with them fear, I can’t but rejoice that the Cienfuegos reactor has not awakened, that under the concrete sarcophagus a nuclear reaction hasn’t started. Thinking about all that has happened, all of our current problems seem small to us, insignificant trifles compared to the horrifying spread of radioactivity.


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55 thoughts on “So Long… Forever… Juraguá

  1. Mr. Raul Castro (and I use that term loosely)! YOU DONT KNOW THE MEANING OF “EQUAL”! YOU AND YOUR BROTHER’S 52 YEARS OF CASTROFACIST REIGN IS NOTHING BUT UNEQUAL! COMEMIERDA! WHO ARE YOU FU**ING FOOLING? OH, YES THE STEADFAST LEFTISTS!

    Havana – Cuban President Raul Castro told Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter that Cuba seeks talks with the US government ‘on equal terms,’ an official statement said during the former US president’s visit to the island.

    ‘Castro reiterated Cuba’s disposition to talk with the US government on any topic, but on equal terms, without conditions and with absolute respect for our independence and sovereignty,’ the statement broadcast on state-run television said Tuesday.

    It said Carter, who was invited to Havana by Castro, and his host discussed ‘international current events, the situations in Cuba and the United States and the relationship between both nations.’

    National broadcaster Cubavision showed images of the meeting in the Palace of the Revolution, the seat of the government, where the US flag was hung alongside the Cuban flag.

    The Carter Center called the trip a ‘private mission’ with the hope of promoting improved relations between the bitter rivals that have not had formal diplomatic relations since the early 1960s.

    Carter previously visited the island in 2002 and met with then-president Fidel Castro, the current president’s older brother.

    Carter also planned to meet with dissidents, former political prisoners, relatives of prison inmates and internet critics of the Castro government.

    http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/americas/news/article_1629572.php/Castro-tells-Carter-that-Cuba-wants-dialogue-with-US-as-equals

  2. I WOULD PUT MY BETTTING MONEY ON YOANI! 12,000 FOLLOWERS AHEAD OF THE MUMMY! GOOD ODDS!

    120,380 Followers YOANI SANCHEZ TWITTER

    108,560 Followers REFLEXIONESFIDEL TWITTER

  3. MIAMI HERALD: Carter to meet with dissidents while in Cuba-Government opponents say they welcome former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s recognition of their struggle.- By Juan O. Tamayo

    Former President Jimmy Carter will meet Wednesday with Cuba’s top dissidents — from blogger Yoani Sanchez to the Ladies in White and 12 just-freed political prisoners — in an extraordinary recognition of their peaceful activism.
    Carter, the most important U.S. political figure to visit Cuba, met Tuesday with Cuban ruler Raúl Castro for what aides said would be a discussion of the ambitious reforms that Castro has proposed to fix an all but bankrupt economy.

    But his meetings Wednesday with critics of the communist system will be a powerful and conspicuous appreciation of the dissidents, regularly jailed or condemned by Cuban officials as a tiny group of “mercenaries” financed by the U.S. government.

    Carter, who made human rights a hallmark of his 1977-1981 presidency, “is acting with coherence,’’ said human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez. “Other foreign visitors never meet with the opposition to avoid angering the Cuban government. But not him.”

    The 86-year-old Carter arranged separate early Wednesday meetings with various groups of dissidents and independent activists at the colonial-era Hotel Santa Isabel in Old Havana.

    One of the sessions will be with popular bloggers Yoani Sanchez and Claudia Cadelo, the leading edge of a generation of young Cubans using the Internet to attack the Castro government and organize independent activities.

    Cuban state television has broadcast a string of special programs on Mondays accusing the “independent bloggers’’ and other Internet activists of being part of a discreet subtle Washington plan to subvert the country’s government.

    “Full of emotion over the meeting tomorrow. It is a highly important recognition for our civil society,’’ Cadelo, who writes the blog Eighth Circle, tweeted on Tuesday. Sanchez, who writes the Generation Y blog, tweeted, “I thank him for the deference and respect.’’

    Under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the U.S. government has put increased emphasis on helping Cubans expand their access to the Web so that they can improve their communications with each other and the outside world.

    Carter also will meet with 12 recently freed political prisoners who refused to go into exile in Spain and insisted on continuing their activism in Cuba, said Berta Soler, spokeswoman for the Ladies in White — the wives of the dissidents.

    “This is recognition for the peaceful labor of opponents who want only an end to the repression and a government that allows its people to lead their own lives,’’ Soler told El Nuevo Herald by telephone from Havana.

    The 12 were the last still in prison from the 75 dissidents sentenced to up to 28 years in prison during a harsh crackdown in 2003 known as Cuba’s “Black Spring,” All were classified as “”prisoners of conscience” by Amnesty International.

    Also meeting with Carter will be Elizardo Sanchez, head of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, and Christian activist Oswaldo Paya, who both met with Carter when he visited Havana in 2002.

    During that stay, which made him the most important U.S. figure to visit Cuba since the Castro brothers’ 1959 revolution, Carter met with about 20 dissidents as well as Fidel Castro. He is expected to meet again with Fidel Castro during the current visit.

    Although Carter aides described this week’s visit as “personal,” U.S. officials confirmed that he spoke with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a senior official at the White House’s National Security Council before he left for Havana.

    “As we have said on numerous occasions, we are using all channels available to urge the Government of Cuba to put an end to Mr. Gross’ long ordeal and let him go home to his family,’’ a state department spokesman said.

    Alan P. Gross, a subcontractor for the U.S. government’s Agency for International Development (USAID, has been jailed in Havana for 15 months on charges of delivering Internet communications equipment to Jewish and other non-government groups.

    In brief comments to reporters in Havana on Tuesday, Carter said he had spoken with Cuban officials about Gross but was in Cuba to try to contribute to an improvement in US-Cuba relations and not to get Gross out of jail.

    Carter has said he would make no substantive comments while in Cuba until a news conference shortly before he leaves Havana on Wednesday.

    His visit drew sharp criticism from two South Florida Republicans in Congress.

    “Carter should demand the Castro regime allow free and fair elections, freedom of the press, the establishment of political parties and the unconditional release of all political prisoners,’’ said Rep. Mario Diaz Balart.

    Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen noted that Cuban security forces had detained several dissidents who staged a protest Monday near the Capitolio, the seat of Cuba’s pre-Castro government, to coincide with Carter’s arrival in Havana.

    Two of the detained opposition activists, Eriberto Liranza Romero and Boris Rodriguez Jimenez, had not been heard from as of late Tuesday.

  4. OUR FLACA INTERVIEWED ON CNN ESPANOL ABOUT TOMORROW’S MEETING WITH EX PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER! GO FLACA! GO FLACA!

    YOUTUBE: CNN ESPANOL: Yoani Sánchez será recibida por Carter

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