Fidel Castro, one of the most influential men of the 20th century, has died, but a part of him still lives in the veins of an Armenian citizen. The Cuban revolutionary donated his blood to a victim of the Spitak earthquake in December 1988. Sputnik tells the story.
December 7, 2016 marks the 28th anniversary of the Spitak earthquake. Sputnik Armenia columnist, Dmitri Pisarenko, in a recent article, recalls the story of a survivor of this terrible earthquake, whose life was saved thanks to the Cuban leader.
“I do not remember well, but in the late 1990s, or perhaps in the early 2000s, I heard an interesting story from the local press about a young woman from the city of Gyumri. My cameraman Oganés Akopian and I went to visit her to do a report for NTV (Russian TV), with which we collaborated at the time,” the journalist recalled. The story she told the journalists was very surprising as well as exciting.
Days after the catastrophe, which destroyed the city of Gyumri, and in the ruins of one of the buildings of the city, the rescue teams found this woman in critical condition. Doctors had to amputate one leg. To make matters worse, she needed a blood transfusion to survive.
After the surgery, she began to recover. The doctors informed her that the bag of blood she had received had the name of Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz on it. Years after the tragedy, during the interview, she remembered with a smile the jokes of her relatives about their ‘blood ties’ with the commander. As reported by the columnist, this lady even joked that once she examined herself closely in a mirror to see if she had a beard like Fidel.
“With the death of the revolutionary, an entire era is gone, but his blood continues to give life to a person,” Pisarenko concludes in his article.
The 7.2-magnitude Spitak earthquake is considered to be one of the most destructive in the history of mankind. The earthquake reduced the city of Spitak to ashes, the second largest city in Armenia, and damaged the locality of Gyumri – Leninakán at the time.
As a result, some 25,000 people lost their lives, 140,000 were injured and half a million were left homeless. All the republics of the USSR participated in the reconstruction of the region. Some 20,000 soldiers and Soviet Army officers, as well as hundreds of volunteers, including foreigners, took part in the rescue operations. In addition, 111 other countries provided humanitarian assistance in the form of equipment, food, drugs and rescue workers.
At that time, a large number of people assisted the Armenian people, from ordinary citizens to leaders of some world powers. One of them was the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, who donated his blood to the victims. Thousands of Cubans followed suit.
The government of Cuba also sent a group of doctors equipped with the most modern equipment to Armenia. Fidel Castro personally was in charge of the organization of the delivery of aid to the victims of the earthquake.
Sputnik’s team, meanwhile, wants to express its gratitude to all those who helped then the victims of the tragedy. If you worked as a rescuer, volunteer or doctor in the disaster area in 1988, the agency Sputnik calls you to share your memories with us. Send us your stories