Neighborhood “CDR” Meetings in Cuba

Jorge Milanes

CDR-Cafe-Fuerte-Article - copiaHAVANA TIMES — “We’ll be holding a meeting to nominate our candidates next Wednesday, at the market corner,” the chair of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) tells me as she opens the gate of her house. “Can I count on you to go?” she asks.

I looked her straight in the eye, thinking whether to answer her or not. I finally decided to do so, saying:

“I’ve been participating at these meetings for a very long time. We always discuss the same things and, even though this one has to do with something else, we never arrive at any solutions. There are several problems in the neighborhood. The most critical is the garbage problem – we have garbage that piles up and it takes up to a month to collect it. The place has become a breeding ground for infections and a perfect habitat for flies and cockroaches. They come out of the sewer and head for people’s houses and the cafeteria on the corner, which has plenty of customers. That corner is disgusting, to tell the truth.”

She looks at me, lowering her head as though she were taking in my words. Perhaps she’s embarrassed by what I’m saying or secretly thinks I’m right, because she lives in the same neighborhood.

“I’m certainly tired of all this,” I go on. “There were never as many flies in my house as there are since Nelsy, the CDR representative, decided to put all of the dumpsites in one street corner. We can’t even sit out on the porch because of the stench and the flies. It’s not only my house, it’s the entire neighborhood,” I conclude.

“Neighborhood residents are also responsible for this problem, because they throw the garbage outside the bin,” she says to me.

“Just one moment,” I interject. “We have three garbage bins for 6 city blocks, and they collect the garbage once a month! I don’t think we’ll be solving this old, major problem at the meeting. I don’t think I’ll be able to attend, you know the situation I have at home and I can’t walk away from it.”

“You’re right, kid. We’ll see each other later,” the CDR chair replies and walks away.


6 thoughts on “Neighborhood “CDR” Meetings in Cuba

  • I believe we were talking about garbage collection John. Its failure, as is the failur of most of The Cuban system, is one of central planning. That can be seen plainly when comparing the success of the “Cuenta propistas” with government run enterprises.

    I believe the garbage pickup failure is a good metaphor for the Cuban regime.

  • But for the USA, instead of a dystopian existence you believe a utopian public services ethos that extends to garbage collections breaks out ?

    Here is a different approach; try turning over control of such matters to local counsels elected by the Citizens they serve. The Roman’s figured out public services several thousand years ago. The US embargo has nothing to do with the sqauler depicted in the article.

  • Yeah sure,
    For all your chatter I still don’t see a lifting of the embargo and as long as it is in effect, I have to assume that it must be working to create shortages in all areas of Cuban society AS IT WAS INTENDED TO DO.
    If it weren’t working why would the GOUSA keep it on all this time ?
    You have a problem in that you can’t honestly or rationally blame the Cuban government for any economic problems as long as it is under attack by the most powerful nation on Earth.
    Right now you’re in the position of trying to have it both ways and frankly, you’re lying because a lie of omission is a lie nonetheless .
    ….and to say that the world’s most powerful economic power has had a lesser effect on the Cuban economy over 54 years than have the measures taken by a defensive Cuban society is just plain bullshit.
    Call off the embargo , THEN we’ll see what is what .
    But you hypocrites won’t do that and lose the argument.
    That’s the way of the erroneous right .
    I rarely call anyone a liar. .

  • John, economic conditions don’t dictate that garbage collection be delayed, it’s inept socialist central planning that’s to blame. It’s the same reason Cuba has problems growing enough food and raising enough cattle to feed its own people. You can’t blame the embargo for that. My God John, Cuba has some of the most arable land in the world. They should be exporting food!

  • Rather than complaining about your powerlessness, how about proposing some direct action to remedy the situation? Begin by petitioning the appropriate department in charge of such collection to (a) increase the frequency of trash/garbage collections and (b) spread out the sites of the dumpsters or trashbins throughout the neighborhood, then (c) set a deadline by which you expect these actions to be accomplished; then, if these deadlines are not met, organize a neighborhood crew of volunteers to collect all the accumulated trash and garbage AND DUMP IT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NEAREST MAJOR ACCESS ARTERY IN-OR-OUT OF HABANA! That should get the attention of the authorities! Also, of course, contact the media, both the major, minor and alternative media. I’m sure there will be threats from some of the bureaucrats of the official channels, but you just have to take that chance that there might be consequences. Instead of accepting that the role of the CDR’s are just as the lowest echelons of transmitters of orders from the highest levels of government, they really need to become the grass roots, the neighborhood organizations that INITIATE tasks on the local, neighborhood, level, and communicate local needs, desires and wishes. Otherwise, they will continue to decline. If folks in the neighborhood realize they have no real power, they will cease to participate, or participate only on a pro-forma basis. In the past the C.D.R.’s have been training grounds for future leaders (and not just obedient syncophants, either, but folks who make important and relevant suggestions and decisions), and they can again assume, and even expand, such roles. They really should be the grass roots basis for democracy, the milieu from whence the natural leaders of the people originate.

  • When economic conditions dictate that garbage collection must be delayed in order to divert those funds to a more pressing social need , that is the decision that is made .
    I grow tired of pointing out that the GOUSA is waging an ECONOMIC war against the ENTIRE POPULATION of Cuba and that health problems and inconveniences are part and parcel of that silent war.
    Many commenters and writers seem to forget that the USG is waging that war and that the purpose is to make many/enough Cubans angry enough to overthrow their revolution and revert to free-enterprise capitalism .
    So you bitch and whine about the effects of this silent immoral war and never think to mention that it exists and is the reason for the problems that trouble you.
    You’re losing perspective and forgetting what the U.S. foreign policy objectives are and have been for the past 100 years.
    Your country’s problems are not mostly home grown.

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