Miguel Arias Sanchez

Illustration by Carlos

HAVANA TIMES — Anybody who hears the word “diver” has an image of a man dressed in a wet suit, a mask on his face and an oxygen tank pop into their back, a person who fishes or investigates the depths of the world’s seas, reportó dpa.

However, there is a new kind of diver in Cuba that has nothing to with this image. These divers don’t dive into the depths of the sea, but are found on the surface, without a wet suit, without a mask, walking through the city’s streets day after day, from the afternoon to the late evening, going directly to trash dumpsters to start working.

They stick their hands into all of that waste, without gloves or a mouth cover, looking for something they can still make use of. Sometimes, they are after food scraps for an animal they have at home. Others look for dissimilar objects, like clothes, shoes which somebody has thrown out and can still be used after being fixed up a little.

And so, they take out everything they consider to still have some use left in them from trash dumpster to dumpster.

But in Cuba, there are health regulations which ban this kind of activity, which as well as being unhygienic, gives a very bad impression to anyone who watches how a person submerges almost half of their body into a trash dumpster, even with waste in a really bad state. It’s not a positive or pleasant image at all.

It’s true that many of these divers have a very low income or are unemployed and this is the way they have found to make some money, but the price they have to pay is too high: their health.

There’s a slogan that says: Hygiene is health, but these divers, immersed in their struggle to survive, don’t seem to have read it or quite simply don’t care.

Note: although the majority are men, there are also more than a few women who practice this activity.


Miguel Arias

Miguel Arias Sánchez: I was born in Regla in 1949. That’s where I went to elementary and high school. Afterwards I took courses to be a teacher and did that for several years. I did my military service and as soon as I got out I studied formally to be a teacher graduating at the University of Havana. I taught in classrooms for nearly 20 years. I had the opportunity to travel and see another reality. I returned and am currently doing different self-employed activities.

10 thoughts on “Divers in Cuba and their Health

  • Carlyle, you just can’t help yourself, can you?

    You are so stuck on your one-trick-pony that even when it’s clearly pointed out that you’re off on your own tangent and trying to piggyback on my observation with something much worse you still can’t stop with the BS.

    You’re just as bad as the pro Castro nutbars here. You’re the very same as they are.

    And your claim that Cuba’s garbage issue is worse than anywhere you’ve ever been is just plain dumb. I guess you’ve never been to many places in Central/South America, Asia, the entire Indian Subcontinent or Africa either.

  • My comment Eden was not exaggerated. The garbage stretches for some 5 kilometres and the swimming pool at Playa Baracoa is half filled with garbage. i have only visited some thirty odd countries many of them so-called ‘developing countries’ and have not seen such a mess anywhere else. If you doubt, why not just go and look rather than making unfounded accusations.

  • With all due respect Carlyle your explanation shows that your original comment was exaggerated and misleading. ALL developing countries have garbage issues, many of them much worse than Cuba’s. I made a simple observation and you as usual try to turn it into something bigger.

    Cuba is already enough of a disaster on its own. Nothing needs to be spun/twisted into even worse light.

  • Terrry is pursuing denial. All he has to do, is visit the sites I described to verify what I wrote. (He won’t.) My comment about the Propaganda Department employees is that they would be more beneficially engaged by clearing up garbage than painting slogans.

  • No, our garbage goes to the landfill. The garbage which I accurately described (anyone can check by going to the Salado and Baracoa playas) must haven taken dozens of trips by people -whether by small trucks, horse and buggy or cars. I cannot say how much of it comes from Havana, but as you know, the streams and rivers in Havana are popular spots for dumping rubbish.

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