Fate Played Its Part

Dariela Aquique

After the fact.

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.

The rooftop.

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:

One of the painters who didn't make it to 2011.

“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.

Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

One thought on “Fate Played Its Part

  • Dear Dariela,

    I appreciate reading your diary, even the articles I may have a critical perspective of. I must express a delicate concern about this latest edition. Some things are universal. I believe every country, culture, society…has certain universal norms, indifferently-applicable standards, rules of conduct, general concepts of decency. Although I do not believe that you meant harm – and superficially-speaking, the broad smile in your picture alone portrays you as a very pleasant, cheerful person incapable of offensive thought – it nevertheless appears shocking to me that your article featured publicly the images of the deceased painter. Could there not have been the overriding consideration of respect for the dead and his family? Could the professional temptation to make a public exhibition of this tragedy to score some journalistic or political point not have been avoided?

    Unfortunately, I must point out that it is especially contradictory that this insensitivity should come from the author of the provocatively-titled article of December 26, 2010: “Should We Return to Segregation?”. You pontificated then, my dear:
    “The rules of common courtesy are not respected. You can be the victim of an unwanted shower from water poured off any balcony on any street or assaulted by unnervingly loud “music.” No need to even mention common speech; vulgarity, obscenities and banal utterances have now become a part of the day-to-day routine of Cubans.”

    “The notion of “all of us together and all equal” has brought about the absolute loss of the right to demand respect for privacy and appropriate behavior. We have been invaded by promiscuity!”

    So, there, Dariela, I have to express to you also my shared concern for “the absolute loss of the right to demand respect for privacy and appropriate behaviour” in this case.

    And also without preaching to you, please allow me to say, let us really be mindful of those universal norms. In your article “Proverbial Truths” of December 29, 2010, you used a picture of a semi-nude black woman to represent a prostitute. While in Cuba this may not have any racial connotation, in the US it certainly does. The stereotype of the black woman as a “Jezebel” and the history of black actresses forced into roles reinforcing this image is well-known. It is also well-known outside Cuba that there is a problem of rich European tourists who descend on Havana for its “exotic” women, an euphemism for dark women (also internally referred to by some as those “from the provinces”).

    Universal norms do not allow the publishing of pictures of victims of terrorism. Let the same apply to occupational tragedy in Cuba. I urge you, in the name of the very lofty values you articulately profess, to consider a small apology to the family of the deceased for both the publication of the picture of the tragedy and the anecdotal speculation of its cause.

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