We have begun a new year after having left behind December, when from early in the month Cuban families labored to make sure of everything from a leg of pork to a crate of beer, bottles of rum or well-liked yams for their end of the year traditional Creole dinner.
During a dinner among friends and family, where at midnight glasses are raised, the shortage of fireworks will be commented on, while good health and spiritual energy will be wished for, just as many people will inevitable hope they can leave the country this year.
But December is not only a month of parties; according to old people’s fables it’s the month of tragedies and fatalities, and it was just like that in my city. Disaster occurred this past December 13 when paint crews were applying lively colors to the walls of buildings on Enramadas Street.
From the rooftop they could watch the pedestrians going up and down the street doing their regular shopping. The workers hadn’t the least suspicion that the fateful predictions of those grey-haired elders would come true, but a steel pole touched the electric cables and at the same time made contact with the two painters, killing them instantly.
Here, an accidental occurrence played its part: the steel pole was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
However, responsibilities always exist, which leads me to wonder:
Why weren’t these workers wearing gloves or the appropriate kind of boots or protective headgear?
Why didn’t they clear off the roof?
How does the company they worked for (Seguridad y Proteccion) operate in relation to its workers, especially those who confront high risks or danger?
After posing a few questions like these, from among the several answers I received there was one that I found the quite disturbing. Someone commented to me:
“This equipment is supplied but workers sell it on the black market to make a little pocket change. I imagine that since we were nearing the end of the year, this money was necessary to guarantee their families things to eat.”
I’ll never know what really happened. Were they really given the protective gear? Did they sell those items to buy food? In whatever the cases, the result was sad and unforgivable.
The fact is that this New Year’s, two families didn’t celebrate their anxiously awaited parties and someone in charge of checking the conditions for carrying out risky work won’t be able to sleep well. The blame is spread around and excuses found.
It was an environment favorable to bad omens. In short, fate played its part.