A People Without Hope

By Fabiana del Valle

HAVANA TIMES – I live in a small town in Pinar del Rio province, between palm trees and marabu bush weeds. It doesn’t have any remarkable stories, nor were any glorious battles fought here that deserve monuments in their honor. Nor have renowned children come from these lands to give it a bit of fame. So, without any tourist attractions and historic importance, there’s nowhere in this country that can “lift its head”, as we say around here.

Main Street

In the almost forty years I’ve lived here, I can attest to the fact that nothing here prospers. It’s as if we were inside a bubble and Time has stopped so that progress moves backward.

The town has 964 inhabitants, a figure that I received from the GP’s office. While the district representative, who is the local government representative, told me that it’s gone up to 1000-and-something. By the way, he promised to give me the exact number one of these days, and I got tired of waiting for this day that never comes. This is something else that happens here, everything ends up being just a promise.

For example, the water shortage problem is something that has been dragging on for years. It was resolved, but only for a short while. Water has stopped reaching this area, since May. I have personally written several letters to the provincial Communist Party Secretary after local attempts failed. But I’m still waiting, for water and answers. I’m sure they are lost somewhere between paper in another file!

Our bus stop.

On August 27th, after Hurricane Ida passed through here, the bus stop lost its roof. Well, almost three months later and it continues to look like a plucked chicken. By some miracle, the tin roof is still there, it hasn’t changed owner, and it seems that the town’s inhabitants really are a noble people. So noble that right now we are standing under the sun and waiting for something to pick us up, which can take several hours.

In the town center, there is a two-story building that used to belong to the Fishing Ministry. It is currently empty and out of use. It’s a gloomy place, full of bats and pests.

The old Fishing Ministry building.

The elders here tell us that back in the 1950s, it operated as an inn that became famous because of the quality of its services. Anyone who traveled along the Central Highway would make a compulsory stop at the “Nena Menendez Inn”. When the State took over, everything changed. It became a nest of rats, cockroaches, limestone walls and empty shelves. Although as long as it’s standing, people here held onto the hope of better times. Well, this place has been under renovation for almost two years already, and we’re waiting for it to finally be completed the year that it snows.

The “Nena Menendez Inn” today.

Roads here have been deteriorating over the years. They had such big potholes that cars had to take alternative routes to dodge them. But this was resolved. One day, a truck came with earth and covered up all the holes. Now, these roads have become alleyways, where the dust rises creating suffocating clouds.

Things out of a science-fiction book happen here in my town. From the most disheartening news, to these times when everything is unchanging, as if the clocks have stopped. When you live in a place like this, hopelessness seeps into every dawn. Nothing surprises you and the days pass by, always foretelling new chaos. 

Lea más de Fabiana del Valle aquí en Havana Times.

Fabiana del Valle

I was a girl who dreamed of colors and letters capable of achieving the most widely read novels or those poems that conquer rebellious hearts. Today around forty, with my firm feet on this island, I let the brush and the words echo my voice. The one that I carry tight, prisoner of circumstances and my fears.

One thought on “A People Without Hope

  • It is the same all over Cuba, if one strays off the tourist beaten tracks. Weary, dreary, crumbling, littered and neglected, a reflection of the incompetence of ‘Los Gordos’ comfortably sequestered in Siboney with the occasional visit to the Poder Popular.

    That is the significant difference between communism and socialism. As Winston Churchill said: “The inherent vice of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”

    But with communism, there is not only the miserable mass, but the favoured few who live a life of comfort ensured by the ruthless application of power and control.

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