The memory of Fidel in Batabanó lives in the air, in the salty aroma of the sea, in the memory of the inhabitants of Ñancaguazú with whom he shared a cup of coffee. It is in the popular imagination that blindly believes that it could divert cyclones, just with its presence.

Iraida Soto Cruz, the nursing graduate, director of the polyclinic of the municipal seat and internationalist collaborator, life awarded her three times, marking with indelible ink in her heart and in her memory the opportunity to be very close to the Commander, living in different circumstances a quality that among many others marked the life of Fidel: his humanism and his capacity for service, alongside the people.

Batabanó will not forget Fidel, under the rain and the heralding gusts of the devastating Hurricane Lili in 1996, which threatened to take lives in the small coastal town of Surgidero, much less will Iraida erase him from her memory, that night at the border guard post next to the health personnel.

And then that fateful April Fool’s Day. What seemed like a joke typical of the celebration would turn into one of the darkest days that the fishing village remembers: the collision of two passenger boats that covered the route between Isla de la Juventud and Batabanó. Iraida as part of a medical brigade quickly came to aid the wounded.

Who would say, at that time, to the very young nurse Iraida, that once again Fidel would mark her life on Iraqi soil during her first internationalist mission?

At the Commander’s call not to abandon the sister nation, to accompany it in the unequal war that had broken out, the 250 health specialists, including Iraida from Batabano, silently but irrevocably repeated: I AM FIDEL and there they stayed.

Iraida Soto Cruz knows herself to be special, she is aware that her life will transcend, not only because of her many merits earned, including being a member of the Association of Combatants of the Cuban Revolution, but also because of the pride of having forged her character and in the near protection of the spirit of Fidel.

Olga Lidia Gómez Ramos

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