The Situation We Are Seeing Around Us

Gazebo in the Victor Hugo park in Vedado.

By Irina Pino

HAVANA TIMES – Being sad is a natural state, something that comes over you all of a sudden and you can’t stop it. I’ve been sad since last week, after a friend left for the US.

She went there to get her residency. Her son filed papers for her. I’ve lost count of how many have crossed this sea, looking for other ways to survive. This exodus is unstoppable. It’s a big cause for concern because we have no idea when it’s going to end.

I went to a doctor’s appointment the other day and they’ve set up an office on the ground floor (which used to be for psychological care), so people can pick up their medical papers for traveling.

Let me tell you, the room and entrance to the building were jam packed. It was strange to see and hear people congratulate each other, wishing each other the best. Why? Well, for leaving the country, the land where they were born and planted roots, where they have their family, friends, their dead.

I find it absurd… people should be super sad, having to leaving the country.

But that’s not the least of it, the landscape around us is becoming more and more depressing, not just because there’s so little food and medicine, but because of the general situation around us.

Vedado was always a beautiful neighborhood in Havana, now its streets are full of potholes, its sidewalks are ragged, there’s garbage outside dumpsters, stinking and scattered all over the ground.

Doorways have been transformed into cafes and private businesses, eyesores of an awful and unprecedented urban planning.

Then, you have lines of all kinds of people, who buy a soda for a price that doesn’t correlate with the product’s quality. A pizza or sweet isn’t a healthy lunch.

It’s sad to see nobody protesting high inflation rates, an uncontrolled spike in prices every day. Complete anarchy.

Sitting in a park used to be a pleasant, romantic experience. Now, there are few benches you can sit on, people have stolen the backs, and the vegetation has been neglected, ruined. At night, there’s no more light from streetlights, as if the heads of the posts have been ripped off.

Large movie theaters have stopped being profitable businesses. They are empty when there isn’t a festival, very few go, some elderly or beggars to sleep for the duration of the movie. They are used more for comedy and circus shows. Small movie theaters can be found all over the world, with lots of different movies on offer. We’re still behind in this aspect.

What can I say about public transport? It’s pretty much a mythical subject now, it’s still awful. Taxi fares are sky-rocketing.

I have a friend who decided to ride her bike to travel the huge distance that spans from her home to work and vice-versa. But when she gets there, her legs and back are done for.

She tells me that she doesn’t want to think about the future, about what’s going to happen, because that thought depresses her. I understand her uncertainty.

You don’t want to go out at night, rather you must not go alone, because everything is enshrouded in darkness. They talk about energy saving, but at the expense of a car accident, of facillitating crime, or falling into a deep hole and breaking your leg.

The Government has set out to put an end to corrupt business owners and employees, delivering a food and personal hygiene allotment to your bodega ration store once a month, but it’s just expensive charity, which low-income families are unable to afford.       

Read more from Irina Pino’s diary here.

Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

One thought on “The Situation We Are Seeing Around Us

  • I am concerned that the situation in Cuba, which is worsening every day, has lasted for so long that we have grown numb to hearing the latest news from Cuba about food shortages and daily blackouts. The danger with this is analogous to frogs in a pot of boiling water. Because the temperature rises so slowly, by the time the frogs realize what’s going on, it’s too late. These daily blogs about record-breaking outmigration, food lines that are measured in street blocks and garbage in the streets breeding rats the size of cats only serve to desensitize readers to the human tragedy that is present-day Cuba.

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