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PC(USA) offering support after massive fire in Cuba

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and World Mission reach out to partners

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency continue to keep a close watch on Cuba after lightning triggered a massive fire at an oil storage facility in Matanzas, Cuba, earlier this month.

The Rev. Edwin González-Castillo (standing)

In an interview with the Presbyterian News Service, the Rev. Edwin González-Castillo provided an update on how Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and World Mission have reached out to partners in the wake of the fire. He also explained how people near the disaster are being impacted.

There are thousands of people living in the area and many had to be evacuated because of the threat posed by the fatal disaster, which was accompanied by dark plumes of smoke and explosions. The evacuees are now in need of shelter and supplies, said González, Associate for Disaster Response in Latin America and the Caribbean.

  • Along with “our friends” from World Mission, Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri and José Manuel Capella-Pratts, Regional Liaisons for the Caribbean, “we have been in contact with our partners in Cuba from the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Cuba and the Council of Churches in Cuba to understand better the situation and have a good assessment of the ways that we could provide assistance in this event and months after,” González said. PDA is working with the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Cuba to provide a solidarity grant to help the local churches assist people in the community. PDA also is working with other partners to help obtain needed supplies as people continue to face the aftermath of the disaster, González said. There are people “who are going to be living out of their homes for a few weeks and months,” and are facing daily blackouts and limited access to food and medical supplies.

A cross in Cuba (Photo by Erin Dunigan)

The Presbyterian Office of Public Witness has issued an Action Alert noting that U.S. sanctions that are in place in Cuba are making it difficult for faith communities to get supplies to the island. The office is advocating for sanctions imposed by the Trump administration to be lifted and for Cuba to be removed from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

Presbyterians are urged to show their support by contacting their members of Congress and the current administration. “Our neighbors in Cuba need relief,” the Action Alert states. “Please use the power of your voice to demand a change in policy and humanitarian relief for Cuba in this time of great need.”

To support PDA’s response in Cuba, go to

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