Pinar del Rio: from Cinderella to a Princess

Elio Delgado Legon

Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, the number two man in the Communist Party, gave the keynote speech.  Photo: Jose M.  Correa /

HAVANA TIMES — On Wednesday the main event of the annual July 26th commemoration was celebrated, remembering the events that took place 64 years ago, when a group of brave young people, headed by the revolutionary lawyer Fidel Castro, tried to take by surprise the Moncada Barracks, in Santiago de Cuba, the second greatest fortress in the country, and the Carlos Manuel de Cespedes barracks in Bayamo.

These operations weren’t successful like they had hoped they would be and ended in a massacre where most of those who were caught that day and in the following days were murdered. Just a small group, among them Fidel, managed to survive and were taken to trial where they were sentenced to seven years in prison and locked up in the jail on the Isle of Pines.

Every year, on this day, a public event is celebrated in the province which has had the best results over the  previous year, in production, services, culture, sports and other activities geared towards improving the conditions of Cuban people’s lives, which is why this event is an incentive for the efforts made by the people in this province.

Why was the July 26th event celebrated in Pinar del Rio this year? Let’s take a little look at its history. Before 1959, the province of Pinar del Rio was considered the “Cinderella” of Cuba, as it received very little or no attention from governments at that time, in spite of the huge contribution that its farmers and laborers made towards the Cuban economy, especially in tobacco production and mining.

In the ceremony’s main speech, the second secretary of the Communist Party’s Central Committee and vice-president of the State Council and the Council of Ministers, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, offered some statistics which perfectly show the change brought about in this province after the triumph of the Revolution, and I will copy some brief paragraphs from this speech here:

“We only need a few figures to illustrate the contrast between that sad reality and the present.

“Over 85% of the farms in Pinar del Rio didn’t belong to those who worked them.

“In the health sector, there were only 16 health facilities and about 100 private doctors’ offices.  In total, there were 248 doctors, 25 dentists and 50 nurses and assistants.  Today, there are 626 family doctor practices, 19 polyclinics which operate in every municipality, 8 dentist offices and 5 hospitals. In these, there are 4,577 doctors, 18 times more, and 5,635 make up nurse staff, which is 112 times more than the number of nurses that existed before the Revolution.

“In remote rural areas, where the presence of a doctor was a fantasy, even the presence of a nurse, today there are 24 emergency services which are able to save many lives.

“The astonishing figure of over 60 infant deaths per 1000 live births was reduced to 1.7 in the first semester of 2017, it’s a truly extraordinary figure and I believe that it is the lowest in Cuba right now (Applause). And life expectancy has risen from 53 years in 1958 to 79 years today, which also figure among the highest rates in the country, which are only present in highly developed countries.”

I could continue to add statistics to show the progress the most western province in Cuba has made, but for the sake of not wanting to make this post too long, I will only add two statistics: the first is that the province has a 99.56% rate of electricity in homes. There are only 694 homes which are isolated in remote areas that need to have electricity installed, which will be resolved with the installation of solar panels. The second is the existence of full employment, as unemployment doesn’t exist practically.

These statistics alone allow us to state that where Pinar del Rio was the “Cinderella” of Cuba before the Revolution, today it has become the “princess”.

6 thoughts on “Pinar del Rio: from Cinderella to a Princess

  • One thing about Elio, and I respect him, is I never go to bed without reading his latest post. His new profile photo isn’t as awesome but neither is my latest Chicago drivers license picture. I disagree often but as with Moses, I sometimes cringe when I agree.

  • It is a simple analysis of Our Great Jose Marti “When the people of a country emigrate is because the people in power should not be there”. Before 1959 Cuba was a country of immigrants including ny grandfather from China. He became president of Chinese club in Pinar Del Río , after 1959 most Cubans want to live somewhere else. You don’t need to be a genius like Marti to understand this concept.

  • Your criticism belies a typical response from Castro sycophants. Rather tham defend your position, you choose to attack those with whom you will likely disagree. Actually this post from Elio is among his least ridiculous. Although Elio fails to consider differences in the population of the province in 1959 and the present time, the progress in available health care is worth noting. He also glosses over the likely exaggeration of available medical personnel. It is more than likely that a large number of these medical personnel identified as living in the province no longer work as health professionals. But if the bottom line is that more residents of the province have greater access to health care, Elio is probably correct.

  • Oh no Mr MacD!!
    In your race to the criticism finishing line you may have beaten Mr P this time and left him searching desperately in the dust for shards of glass slipper.
    But I’m afraid that in your haste to achieve this feat, you have neglected to read the article properly.
    The August Gentleman in question was referring to the province of Pinar del Rio.
    Not the City of Pinar del Rio.
    Having been to that end of the island various times and having driven round the province (and the city) in a sturdy old Lada, I can tell you that there is a big difference!
    The province is indeed full of jewels that shimmer and sparkle and are fit to grace any fairytale Cinderella Ball.
    The provincial capital has it’s charms but is somewhat rough and ready.
    It’s never too late to read the article again Mr MacD. But do so before midnight or you may turn into pumpkin pie…….
    Within the Cinderella theme I’m tempted to mention ‘Ugly Sisters’ in reference to you and Mr P…
    But that would be overdoing the fairytale metaphors it wouldn’t it?

  • If having walked Pinar del Rio, Machado Ventura regards the city as a “princess”, his view demonstrates pathetic acceptance of 18th century standards. The promotion of poverty and squalor as objectives is deplorable. On the other hand it may be that Ventura has not walked Pinar and thinks that the spruced up freshly painted surroundings of his stage reflects Pinar as a whole rather than reflecting the preparatory work of the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba.

  • The Hymn of The 26th of July Movement was written by my good friend and mentor Cartaya, one of the most intelligent, engaging and hysterically funny human beings I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

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