Irina Echarry

Havana bus. Photo by Rafiki

…Algo anda mal, mal anda algo” (Something’s Going Wrong) was the song by Los Aldeanos that was screeching in my right ear, thanks to some man who was enjoying his iPod on the bus.  Between the heat, the people jammed on top of each other, and the music they forced me to listen to, the trip to the Vedado neighborhood was unbearable.  I was about to get off and wait for another bus… but…what if another one never showed up?

The Alamar community is the barometer for measuring the state of transportation in the capital.  Alarm signals are triggered there every day: people thrown off buses in the middle of the street, vehicles packed with riders, drivers who don’t respect the established stops (forcing people to run to get on), schedules routinely violated…

Then, sometimes, in what would destabilize anyone, I go out and the transportation is phenomenal, as if nothing had ever happened.

I live in Alamar in front of the bus terminal, the end of the line.  From there I can see how the bus system is slowly gridlocking.  The routes that were established several months ago no longer respond to the needs of the public, and we’re all concerned.

Could it be that we’re returning to the stress-filled situation of the 1990s?  It’s likely that we are. Officially, no one speaks about the real situation. “There are problems” is the phrase that is more than well known, but the truth is that we’re entering a crisis of urban transportation.

Every day some bus breaks down and people have to walk under the blazing tropical sun to another stop where they might hope to catch another bus (whenever one might come) or trudge all the way to their destination.

The strange thing is not that the buses break down; what’s incomprehensible is that whoever it was that bought the buses didn’t remember to ensure the supply of spare parts for when their need arrived.

Fortunately I live on the fifth floor. I have the privilege of seeing everything from up high: the buses (leaving and entering, or parked) and also the scarlet-red “flame trees” flourishing at the entrance of the terminal.  For the time being at least, I have that relief.

Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

3 thoughts on “Something’s Going Wrong

  • Thanks, Michael, for the comic relief. And if wings can be invented for frogs, the dear little creatures will not bump their bottoms every time they jump.

    But seriously, our sisters and brothers in Cuba often delineate the absurd effects of Marxian bureaucratic state socialism in HT, but do not put forward any sort of political reform program.

    Modern cooperative socialism simply tries to look at the real world more scientifically and come up with programmatic answers for Cuba, the U.S., and all the countries of the world.

    Anyone should be able to look at the uniform failures of Marxian state socialism around the world and conclude that it does not work. Anyone should be able to look at the successes of direct ownership of the workplace in the Basque region of Spain and conclude that these employee-owned cooperative corporations provide an economic mechanism for workable socialism.

    Put these two observations and conclusions together and the solution to transportation in Cuba, and all the other problems in Cuba, can be solved by a coherent political reform program.

    The answer to the bus mess in Havana is not finding a better bureaucrat to run the department, or achieving some wondrous technological advance. It is in the sincere, thinking, caring people who make bold to write for HT to come together and advance a concise, clear program for a modern cooperative republic for their country.

    This is not to criticize Irina or Erasmo or anyone else who writes for HT, but simply to put forward an urgent invitation to them to join a common struggle that is going on in the U.S. and all across the globe.

    What is the corrected, truly scientific program for an authentic, workable socialist republic? Answering this question is what we all need to be struggling to formulate.

    The monopoly capitalists have jumped for joy at the uniform failure of Marxian state socialism in each country that has had the misfortune to try and apply it. But we feel they have jumped too soon. Now that Marxism has revealed in real time the dysfunction and self-destructive nature of its core economic formula, the stage is set for a corrected, common-sense socialist program.

    Hopefully Irina, Erasmo, Pedro and a host of others in Cuba will come together and advance such a program. All they have to do is take the successes of Mondragon, Spain and add to the proven employee-owned cooperative corporation partial, non-controlling government ownership of the instruments of production; plus respect for private property rights, the small entrepreneurial strata, and the invisible mechanisms of the socialist trading market.

    If it’s so simple, then why don’t we do it in the U.S.? Well, we are trying. Stay tuned . . .

  • One possible solution to the transportation crisis was envisioned in a certain 1950’s science fiction film. In it, a scientist creates a device with can scramble the atoms of an individual and transport them over distance to be reassembled at the other end. Unfortunately, during his first trial run, a fly accidentally enters the tele-transporter booth with, err, unfortunate results. Still, if these minor “bugs” could be worked out, this would provide an elegant solution to the transportation problem!

  • It’s simple, Irina. What you need in Cuba is a modern cooperative form of socialism. Best wishes.

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