The New Era Gives Birth…to God Knows What

Erasmo Calzadilla

Sewage between the apartment buildings of Alamar.
Sewage between the apartment buildings of Alamar.

HAVANA TIMESI was nearly done with a dramatic post in which I tore my hair deploring the newest disasters that had befallen Alamar, the decaying neighborhood where I live.

Since the last time that I talked about this suburb, two bus stops have fallen down, a pedestrian bridge (a short cut to the Bacuranao beach) has collapsed and another is ready to go, a huge architectural project was halted (the rumor mill claims that it was to be a mausoleum for the Castros), new sewers have overflowed, the prices of agricultural produces have all risen and the garbage problem got worse.

You would have loved the piece: I know that many of you adore hearing the latest “hot” news from Cuba. But, it was ripped from my hands when, suddenly, things began to get better.

Another destroyed bus stop shelter.
Another destroyed bus stop shelter.

Potatoes appeared in the market, the garbage truck has become as punctual as a Poljot watch, they have paved some streets which were as pitted as the lunar surface, the rushing waters in the drainage ditches returned to their underground streams, one of the collapsed bus stop shelters is about to be re-inaugurated, and, most important of all, they brought in new garbage tanks. Some of these humble advances took place shortly before the April 19th local elections (which makes you wonder) but others came afterwards.

Tremendous joy reigns in the neighborhood. I’m happy too, but I’m also left with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate fireworks. However, I had been thinking that a small blow-up, with garbage as the fuel, might serve to awaken the social conscience. I imagined my barrio in a version of the French May ’68: everyone into the streets, making noise, leaving fear and inertia behind, putting “De Gaulle” on the run, and trying to get organized to find some local consensus for solving our chronic problems.

What a dream! Instead, all of the accumulated tension disappeared overnight thanks to an opportune gift from the gods, who may try your patience but will never let you drown.

The old and new garbage collection bins side-by-side.
The old and new garbage collection bins side-by-side.

Alamar will continue being just another bedroom community in orbit around the center with no faith in ourselves, no identity or pride, ignorant of our power, incapable of administrating the needs and waste products of our own metabolism, dependent on the Great State, the giver of gifts and sharer of oil that tomorrow will be scarce.

Epilogue:  Those who were hoping for an outbreak of epidemics and revolts in Alamar (for the morbid pleasure of disasters in faraway places or because they are dreaming of a “Perez-Troica” as a new edition of the Peristroika:) are going to have to wait a while. The era is about to give birth to a new world, but the contractions are still coming and going.

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15 thoughts on “The New Era Gives Birth…to God Knows What

  • Actually, remittances which help to sustain the Castro dictatorship exceed $4 billion. However, by outside help, I mean to say foreign support for democracy movements. Foreign media and foreign technology are also necessary to assist every day Cubans to find their independent voice. You seem to consider that foreign support as harmful. I see it as vital to overcome the Castro tyranny.

  • No outside help? More than $2 billion a year now goes to Cuban families via remittances. It doesnt make sense that i cant spend money in Cuba without a license but i can send up to $8000 to Cuban citizens each year. It also doesnt make sense that we are the only country in the world that cant travel freely to Cuba. We can go to Iran and North Korea but not Cuba. We are the laughing stock of the world for this failed policy. Rubio would set us back and the American people wont stand for it. Only the Miami mafia is in favor of continuing the embargo.

  • No reasonable person wants to “stop the momentum”. People who enjoy freedom in the US and around the world simply want Cubans to be able to exercise the same basic human rights that you and I take for granted. Castro wants foreign investment but does not want to allow private property rights to protect that investment. Castro wants foreign tourist $$$ but cares little if Cubans can enjoy the same golf courses that foreigners will play on. People like you want the US to lift the embargo leaving Cubans without any outside help to improve their lives.

  • And prior to 1959 there was no embargo meant to bring down Cuban governments. We have failed in these efforts for 55 years and are now on a better path. The private sector wont be curtailed as money from all over the world is pouring in. The Mariel free trade zone will draw in manufacturers to go along with all the tourist development. Cuba is a world leader in certain bio technology fields. Even Allan Gross wants the engagement to continue. The old line Cuban exiles and their congressional representatives will not stop the momentum.

  • She no longer swoons in Walmart. Now it’s Saks Fifth Avenue.

  • Cuba’s health and education achievements have come at too high a price. Their sustainability is in question given the deteriorated infrastructure and shortage of materials. It remains to be seen what will become of Cuba’s private sector. Just as the private sector began to take hold in the early 1990s, Fidel pulled back on the reins and closed private businesses. Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean countries with the wealthiest expat community supporting them. It doesn’t surprise me at all that Cuba could quickly become the “star” of the Caribbean. That’s exactly what they were prior to 1959.

  • The failed Castro regime has given Cubans the best education and health care systems in all of Latin America. In spite of the draconian US embargo meant to bring it down it has weathered the American storm and is now attracting visitors and businesses from all over the world. The Cuban people want the embargo lifted in order to attract American tourists and business and to participate with them in growing the private sector. Cuba can easily become the star of the Caribbean. I have been to Cuba several times and have talked with whomever i wanted. While many have grown tired of the long Castro rule they appreciate the advanced social programs and dont want US interference and a return to the rule of the Miami based elite.

  • The revolutionary was, as a famous Castro biographer said, “born with a silver spoon in its mouth. It was a revolution started by the middle class and supported by the wealthy. The hope was to remove Batista and restore the 1940 constitution. Who said theirs (I paraphrase of course)…Castro did!

  • Go to Alamar and then report back that you would be happy to live there. Yes, I have been to Alamar visiting friends who live there. Interesting that you listed places in the former Spanish colonies – all of which have economic problems – including Cuba.

  • Exactly. And Cuba has US aggression to cope with unlike all of the above which have received US “assistance”. Ignore the absurd comments that conditions in the rest of the hemisphere have no relevance. For some reason or other, the Vendepatria contingent love compare Cuba with the benefits that come with life in a Hyperpaper when the comparison is favorable to them. Moses loves to rail on about how his Cuban wife swoons everytime she goes to Walmart.

  • What utter BS. Were kids in Holland full of parasites and illiterate ?

  • As usual, instead of setting high standards you’re looking for the worst of the worst as a comparison for the situation in Cuba. This is what you consider the “triumph” of the revolution?

  • When the Castro took over Cuba standards of living was higher the Belgic,Spain, Holland, and the third economy in the wester hemisphere. Europeans where competiting with Cubans even for a domestic jobs. (If you have a dude just go to the national library in Havana and read the papers classified Jobs Wanted) everywhere in the world is poor people in slumps rich and poor but the problem with Cuba is it had become a country where misery is general, except for the military elite.

  • Happy? Like all giggly and warm and fuzzy? Really? Is that how you Castro apologists choose to to defend the failed Castro regime? It’s better than (insert Latin American slum here). You have set the bar pretty low.

  • he should be happy he lives in alamar rather than in the massive slums of rio, sao paulo, lima, guatemala, kingston, caracas and so many other places.

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