Cubans start to feel power of Hurricane Irma in Guantánamo

Although meteorologists believe Cuba will dodge the worst of the powerful Hurricane Irma, there was a tropical warning in effect for areas of the island Thursday. Authorities in Havana were preparing supplies and shelters. 

Cuban authorities warned the residents of coastal areas in seven provinces to prepare. According to the Institute of Meteorology of Cuba areas in Guantánamo and Holguín were already experiencing high tides and they were expecting waves to get as high as 19.6 feet. 

In the coastal town of Caibarién, ingenious fishermen were piling up their belongings to bicitaxis and horse carriages in search of higher ground. Jose Antigua said he was concerned about the storm surge. He still remembers how Hurricane Kate flooded his town in 1985. 

“With the rain last night, you couldn’t even see Marti Way,” Antigua said about a popular street in Caibarién.

Cuban government officials announced Thursday that they will be cancelling sports-related events. In the city of Remedios, Cubans were using wood to protect colonial-style windows and students were heading back home after classes were canceled. Thursday 

The Cuban government wanted Cubans to help them clean out sewers and drainage systems to deal with flooding, and was broadcasting meteorology reports on Cuban television. 

The U.S. National Hurricane Center was forecasting Guantánamo, Holguín, Las Tunas, Camagüey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus and Villa Clara to experience the hurricane’s storm surge. 

The hurricane was north of the Dominican Republic, while French, British and Dutch rescuers rushed aid to a heavily damaged string of Caribbean islands Thursday, after the 185-mph winds left at least seven people dead and thousands homeless.

Local 10 News’ Brian Ely contributed to this story from Cuba and Local 10 News’ Andrea Torres contributed to this story from Miami. 

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Rainbow flags fly high for LGBTQ march in Santa Clara

Cuban President Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela Castro led a march on Wednesday in Santa Clara to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. 

As the director of Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education, she said she is committed to educating Cubans about the need to accept the LGBTQ community. 

Rainbow flags were also flying on Saturday when some 2,000 demonstrators participated in a similar march in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood. 

Castro has worked for about a decade to put behind the days when Fidel Castro detained members of the LGBTQ community in labor camps. 

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