A Small Door and a Little Camera

Daisy Valera

The Salvador Allende Hospital in Havana.

The Salvador Allende Hospital is one of the largest and most frequented in Havana.

The entryway and exit doors to this facility connect a densely populated neighborhood in the Cerro municipality to a roadway that bears the same name.

A large number of residents from this area go to this roadway daily in search of transportation, since the main public buses pass along it.

The straight line that unites the front and back entryways of the hospital can be looked at as the hypotenuse of a triangle whose other sides are formed by neighborhood streets.

As is logical, nearby residents use the old Pythagorean Theorem to walk along the hypotenuse (cutting through the hospital grounds) and therefore reduce their having to walk an otherwise considerable distance.

I expect many will agree with me that obstructing the walkway affects more than a few people.

I was cutting through this facility last Tuesday, but the back entrance to the hospital was closed, which had led to a couple dozen people accumulating around it.

In fact, we had become that “affected group.”

We were a heterogeneous bunch: the elderly, a pregnant woman, kids and youth, fat and thin, tall and short.

Everyone was confronted with the same situation: whether to squeeze through a hole in the door (approximately 30 inches by 15 inches) or to walk around the two other sides of the triangle within the rectangular block.

The majority tried to slip through, but not everyone succeeded. The pregnant woman couldn’t, nor could one old man with more than a small paunch or two women who were practically obese (perhaps these were the people who needed the door open the most).

As people went through, I could hear various comments. Some people were saying the door would remain closed forever; others said that the hospital would also close the narrow hole; while the majority of people agreed that this all demonstrated a great lack of consideration on the part of those responsible.

I was able to record the last few minutes of the incident after I remembered I had a friend’s IPod in my pocket.

When people saw me filming, they began to say that it should be shown on Havana TV or in Europe, it was all the same to them.

This was when I realized the need for neighborhood journalism that reflects daily problems, sometimes small ones but situations that affect lots of people.

What is needed is journalism that speaks more to the ordinary needs of Cubans, a type of journalism that proposes solutions and is creative…a journalism that identifies those who are responsible or guilty.

I’m a radiochemist — not a journalist — but I feel sufficiently committed to everyone who was there to write about what happened. I believe it’s a small contribution that can end up contributing to solving the problem.

Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.


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