Maria Matienzo Puerto

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, May 3 — With all the taxes we pay, can’t they at least guarantee street lighting? I know this happens in all parts of the world, but since there are no tabloids here, someone has to complain – right?

Let me tell you what happened.

Last night I went to visit a friend who lives near my house. It’s here in the Alamar area, but a few zones further out, where the buses come in.

After we brought each other up to date on our lives (it had been a long time since we had last seen each other), as well as the food and coffee, I finally left that night headed for a bus stop. I had no idea, though, that I would have to wait about two hours for a bus that would take me near my house.

I’m not going to go into the transportation issue here. We all know that it’s a touchy topic in Cuba, especially when we realize that the whole world economic crisis has taken a heavy toll on the vehicular situation in this city, not to mention the island.

What I want to talk about is the sheer fright I experienced when I decided to cross Alamar at 10:30 at night. I’m not used to walking late at night in my neighborhood, but this time I had to, and not without thinking it over beforehand, because the darkness on these streets is terrifying.

Once I stumbled and almost ended up without a big toe. The blame lied in me walking around distracted by a conversation, failing to consider that nonsense like that can sometimes be costly.

In short, this time I was walking alone when I decided I should cross through about ten blocks, between buildings, thickets and woods.

But when I least imagined it, there was a man walking behind me.

At first I thought that it was just another passer-by who was fed up with waiting for a bus that would never come. Still, I quickened my pace since I didn’t like the idea of walking alone in that area with a stranger tailing me. But it didn’t surprise me too much when he too picked up his pace.

Then I began my scheming. I took off my earrings, put my watch in my bag and pulled out my cellphone – all without losing the momentum I had generated, and with my pursuer still behind.

Without losing my cool, I focused on the nearest building and thought it would be a good idea to make it to any apartment there and ask for help. When I got there I found a group of teenagers inside. I told them what was happening but when we all looked out, the man was passing on by at the same speed he had been following me.

The teens walked me as close as they could to my house and I looked up to heaven to express my thanks for all of them. It was then that I noticed the street lamps and I wondered why they weren’t on.

How many of us will have to experience this fright, or how many people will have to be raped for them to turn on at least one bulb on the street.

This is how the whole city is, but in Alamar there have been cases of gangs beating up people, and not even with the aim of robbing them.

Notwithstanding, we remain in the dark.

 


Maria Matienzo

Maria Matienzo Puerto: I dreamed once that I was a butterfly who had come from Africa and discovered that I had been alive for thirty years. From that time on, I constructed my world while I was sleeping: I was born in a magic city like Havana; I dedicated myself to journalism; I wrote and edited books for children; I met to discuss art with wonderful people; I fell in love with a woman. Of course, there are certain points of coincidence with the reality of my waking life and it’s that I prefer the silence of reading and the pleasure of a good movie.

4 thoughts on “Taxes and Public Lighting

  • to maria matienzo puerto. wouldn´ you rather debate dialectical materialism with pedro campos?????????

  • You couldn’t have described it better, Moses. The Venezuela-Cuba fiber optic cable is a mystery. They said some of the officers in charge started to make illegal businesses with calling card companies thus significantly reducing the bandwidth of that cable… corruption, corruption, corruption and little to no accountability.

  • John, obviously you too have never been to Cuba. Here’s how your Chinese lights idea would work in the real Cuba. The son of some general would form a spanish corporation naming himself as the CEO and his wife and the CFO. They would go to China to purchase the lights. While there they would also purchase 50 LCD TVs to bring back with the same shipment as the lights. The TVs would be sold in Cuba for their personal enrichment. Anyway, they buy the lights for $1 apiece. They sell them to Cuba for $3 each.They would use the 200% markup to pay for the TVs and to pay the bribes to get the TVs through Cuban customs. When the Chinese lights arrived at the airport or in port, at least 10% would disappear mysteriously before a bill of lading was produced. It is as if they never arrived.Then as the remaining lights were distributed around the country for installation, those provinces less supportive of the State party would see their allotments reduced. Of course, La Habana would get 50% of them with the lions share to be installed in the Miramar and Santa Fe municipios.Prior to installation, more than half would be missing necessary parts to function. Of course, these parts would reappear on the black market to service car headlights. OK, so we finally see the installation of about 40% of the original number purchased. They are installed in those locations where poorly functioning lights already exist because the wiring in the blacked out areas is also in need of replacement. Because these lights were the factory rejects (hence the low price) that China could not sell in Europe or the US, they only last about a year after which they burn out leaving streets even darker than they were a year ago. Fantasy you say? Gloom and doom? Well then let me tell you a story about a high-speed internet cable that arrived in Cuba more than a year ago from Venezuela….

  • solar lights are available in bulk from china for $1. try made-in-china.com some chinese cities are 100% LED lights including traffic lights. LED lights don´t contain mercury unlike the philips type long life bulbs. public parks and small streets don´t need lights on all the time especially at 3 in the morning. LED lights with motion detectors would save electricity. as old lights are replaced they should be replaced with solar LED lights with motion detectors. they should last for 20 years. order from china.

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