A Strategic Zone?

Irina Echarry

Green area at the entrance to our bus depot.

On other occasions I’ve pointed out that I live on a corner in the Alamar neighborhood where there’s located a depot for the “P” bus, which takes us to the Vedado, Vibora and other communities of the capital.  I’ve also commented about my love of photography.

So it turned out that this morning I was surprised to find a garden with lots of greenery at the entrance of the depot; previously there had only been dry dirt and a few flame trees out in front.

I was glad that the rain and the gardener had served to create such a wonderful and necessary addition, but I was also surprised they had cut the roots a sage shrub that grew to the rear of the site where its flowers bloomed.

Of course I like the new garden’s flowers; it’s only that they shouldn’t get rid of a medicinal salvia plant for an ornamental one – no matter how beautiful it is.  I don’t think they’re incompatible, so it wasn’t necessary to pull up one plant for another.  With that in mind, I went to get my camera to take photos of the garden and —for second time in less than ten days— I was reprimanded.

The first time was at night, when I tried to test the camera in low illumination since there are few street lights there.  I situated myself in front of the depot with my friend Erasmo so that he could help me.   Suddenly a guard called us and told us that we couldn’t take pictures there.  We complied and walked a block trying to answer to the key question: why?

Depot area at night.

The second occasion was this morning, when I was admiring the garden.  Again in a good mood, I was asked by another guard to leave the area with my camera because this was a “strategic zone.”  This time I mustered my nerve and asked why this bus stop was strategic.  But he didn’t know what to say.

Not even his boss —who had by now been put on alert— was able to answer my question.  Nonetheless, he quite kindly asked me to show him the photos I had taken and then requested that I please erase them.

I immediately complied, perhaps afraid to get wrapped in something worse, and then I left.  Though I told them that I was a neighborhood resident, they didn’t explain to me what made this a strategic site, as if I were not entitled to make decisions about what surrounds me or even to know about it.

Maybe it involves the storage of combustible fuel or the security for the buses we ride.  I can think whatever I want, and I can agonize myself imagining some zealously hidden nuclear weapon or some laboratory for cloning human beings there inside.

But whatever it is, it should be something that is known by the community so that all of us can help maintain it if we’re in agreement or protest against it if we aren’t.  Right now I don’t have anyone to approach to answer my question, but I don’t know why that should surprise me: no one consulted any of us residents to even find out if we agreed with having a bus depot so close by, despite the environmental damage it involves.