Where Will Ernesto Go?

Maria Matienzo Puerto 

Photo: Caridad

Mireya and Ernesto have spent a year contesting the handling of his case involving corruption.  Housing Department officials in the Marianao neighborhood cheated him out of the right to receive what’s his.

The problem began when Ernesto’s grandmother died and left the property to him, the sole person who was always at her side.

Later there began to appear the children demanding their piece of ownership in the house.  Ernesto felt confident that because of his years of having lived with his grandmother and her will, no one was going to take his house away from him.

Yet fate was not on his side.  Ernesto had a nervous attack and wound up staying over at the house of Mireya, who helped him recover.  Meanwhile, one of his uncles moved into his house.  This was how the tragedy began.

The police couldn’t intervene because there are no evictions in Cuba.  Ha ha ha…at least not when they don’t want to – when all there has to be is a house in which the government has interests.  But this isn’t the case.

When Ernesto arrived at the offices of the Municipal Housing Department with a lawyer, the runaround began: “You have to come back tomorrow and see the director.”  When he showed up there the next day, the director wasn’t available.  So, he had to set up another appointment.  This went on for a month.

With his persistence he finally managed to see the director but it wasn’t a surprise when the official told him that he knew about Ernesto’s case but that he didn’t have a solution.

Ernesto fell back on his butt.  How is it that the director was aware of his case?  Why didn’t it have a solution?

Dejected, he went back to Mireya’s place convinced that everything was lost.

But Mireya hadn’t wasted time.  Through her inquiries among the neighbors she discovered that her husband’s uncle had been paying — either in cash or in kind (a hog, some car parts) — a housing official so that everything was lost in oblivion.  They even falsified the title to the property under the justification that the original had been misplaced.

Letters were sent and received from the provincial housing office.  Mireya and Ernesto succeeded in being able to remove some cement blocks and, so that they’d shut their mouths, they gave him the right to a wooden room with an independent exit.

Obviously they’re not in agreement or happy, so now they plan on continuing to write “even higher up.”  They don’t have tangible proof of bribery, only the certainty that they’re morally right.

I’m afraid that this story is going to drag on indefinitely, but Mireya’s question is logical: “What’s going to happen to Ernesto if one day I don’t want to be with him anymore and he has to leave my place?”


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.

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