SANTIAGO DE CUBA._ Gigantic Cuban flags that fly in conjoined points of the city, the bustle of building and restoration works and many other details of daily life, remind one of a Silvio Rodriguez song that announces the dawning of a happy day.

The people of Santiago are in full preparation mode for the July 2015 500th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of their city and also, in accordance with a proposal forwarded by President Raul Castro, the 62nd anniversary of the attack on the Moncada Barracks in which he played a prominent role.

It is both an honor and an immense responsibility for the people of Santiago to once again host the main celebrations of this important date in their homeland´s history –July 26, 1953– when young revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro attacked the second most important military barracks in the country. In spite of the attack´s seeming failure, it marked the start of what would be the definitive phase of the Cuban struggle for independence and dignity.

These forthcoming events take on further significance because they will be held just two and a half years after Hurricane Sandy represented a water-shed in the lives of many in this region, testing the ability of the people and their authorities to recover.

The fast-track construction of housing in response to the harm caused by the meteorological event is of top priority as are the repair and renovation of particular old buildings and other facilities in the historical center such as the Imperial Hotel, The Arts Museum, the Cathedral and the home of Diego Velazquez.

There was some good news in the final days of 2014 from where the hurricane touched land close to Mar Verde beach: works were underway to finalize a new residential settlement to house families who lost everything to the rains and havoc wreaking gusts of wind.

On the central corner of Aguilera and San Felix Streets, work is being done to install the regional furniture restoration and conservation workshop which will attend to heritage treasures from other eastern provinces, in an old compound adjacent to another time honoured site, The Emilio Barcadi Museum.

The progress of a new avenue of notable patriotic significance which will directly connect Antonio MaceoRevolution Plaza and the Santa Ifigenia cemetery, where the remains of National Hero Jose Marti rest, is equally encouraging.

The first sections indicate the integration of progressiveand modern styles in the route with underground electrical and communication systems, led technology lighting and an attractive dividing central aisle.

A further positive sign at the close of the year was the start of works on what some have labelled Santiago’s own “Malecon”, a maritime promenade which will run like a strip around the bay and enhance the visibility of a view which, along with that of the surrounding mountains, forms part of the natural environment.

This project will also be integrated into the tourist road which runs to the San Pedro de la Roca del Morro Fort, a World Heritage Site and a series of fortified ruins from the times of Spanish Colonial rule.

Alongside this landscape of investments, locals also strive to comply with the wishes expressed by the Cuban president on January 1, 2014, on the occasion of the 55th Anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution to, in keeping with its notable cultural and historic attributes, maintain a beautiful orderly and clean city. Once again, the seventh villa founded by the Spanish on the island and capital city until the title was ceded to Havana, has begun a new year with renewed life and 500 years of experience in battling earthquakes, cyclones and other events which, in a manner beyond nature, place it at the zenith of national development.

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