Heaps of Garbage

By Fabiana del Valle

HAVANA TIMES – Dariel left his home that day, to get away. Those four walls suffocated him and the rain that had been falling for days had begun to filter through the walls.

He started off by wandering the streets flooded with mud, letting the water cool him down while he cleared his head. In his attempt to forget his troubles, he didn’t realize he was right next to his friend’s house, so he decided to go up and say hello.

While smoking a cigarette on the balcony, he saw a heap of garbage on the other side of the street, where a boy was playing with his soccer ball.

Angry, he escaped again, to a place that many Cubans use to vent their frustrations: social media. He wrote:

“I’m trying hard to forget my surroundings, to focus on other things so I don’t have to regret my decision, time and time again, of staying in this country, but it’s hard.

In these photos, you can see how garbage spills out all over the street, you can imagine the stench of every piece of waste, of a putrefied dog under bunches of weeds.

I think if Cuba carries on like this it will be one of the greatest disease-producing countries in the world because this doesn’t only happen in my town, it’s a national problem.

The entire country is buried in rubble, waste, and overflowing sewage. Not even public health institutions have managed to escape it.

Somebody tells me to be careful, that I might get into trouble. You know what? I don’t care. I believe that everyone interested in surviving in all of this dirt shouldn’t tell anyone to be quiet, on the contrary.

As I write this, the boy’s ball has fallen into the garbage several times. He’s just a teenager trying to play…”

Dariel’s post received many comments; some supporting him and others were a bit more controversial. We Cubans are used to incriminating ourselves for everything that’s wrong.

It’s easier to say we are careless, that we don’t respect the environment, a poorly-educated people like some say. But the problem is very few people are going to the root of the problem. Who is responsible for ensuring garbage collection? The Cuban people or institutions?

We live on an island in ruin, streets are one big pothole, buildings are falling down, garbage rises up alongside hollow slogans. It’s time to open our eyes and stop blaming ourselves for everything, justifying what’s done badly, settling with “it can’t be found.”

That’s how our lives are getting more and more difficult, every day. Complaints are growing on social media, but nobody is doing anything. Posts like Dariel’s are respected for a few minutes, and then they are forgotten.

He knows that. Even so, he writes again and again, he vents his frustration and disconnects from this Revolution and its supporters for a while, who are being held up on top of the waste of a bleeding people.

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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.

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