Cuba: Videos that Reach Us

Nonardo Perea

Galiano St. Photo: Irina Echarry

HAVANA TIMES — “Protest on Galiano Street”: that is the title of a video that reached me this week, and not as part of Cuba’s well-known weekly package, which abstains from divulging materials of a political nature (or films with explicit sexuality, or pornography, to be more precise), so as to avoid problems. As we know, anything smelling of politics and running counter to the revolution is not welcome in our neck of the woods (neither is pornography, though, as many people ought to know, those who rent out illegal cable services switch to channels that show these diabolical materials in the early morning).

This post will not focus on that but on how misinformed we Cubans are, and on how little our journalists do, as evidenced by the fact no one knew about this horrible incident that took place recently, apparently. A man, his wife and four small children blocked Galiano Street to demand justice, after having been evicted from their home. Because of this, the children have been without a home and out of school for eight months, or so the distraught father yelled before the large crowd that surrounded them.

From what I could surmise, it is family that moved to Havana from the countryside and lived in the newly-formed province of Mayabeque illegally for some time. They had been having problems since 2010. According to the father, State Security agents went to get them and forced them out of the town of San Jose de las Lajas, putting them on a bus that took them to the bridge in Cotorro, leaving them there to their own resources, without any kind of help.

Before, the family had written a letter addressed to Raul Castro, hoping he could help them overcome this problem. Receiving no answer, after two months they approached different institutions and claim to have spoken directly with Maria del Carmen, the head of the pertinent Council of State department, but no one listened there either.

In the video, the wife clutches a bag holding her few belongings and disconsolately yells that she is tired. Yelling, the two demand schooling for their children and the right to live where they see fit, for this is the country of their birth. They say that the only thing they want is for people to help them. They don’t want a big house. They would be content with a ranch where they can live like human beings, with being able to work and having their children attend school and lead decorous lives.

Pulling out a slip of paper from his pocket, the man read out a text, mentioning the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF), which works to guarantee human rights such as child development, and ensures that all children around the world have the right to education.

The police didn’t take long to arrive and take him away. Many people in the crowd yelled things in support of the man and against the police. The video ends with a crowd of people running down the boulevard on Galiano Street.

No one knows what became of this family. The video left me feeling sad, because I have no more information about this at the moment.

I wonder what’s become of the parents and the children, who didn’t know what was happening and were also crying. I only hope the video makes it around the world, so that people know that our marvelous country, the land of Jose Marti, Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, is capable of such injustices, and that no one can do anything about them.

Nonardo Perea

Nonardo Perea: I see myself as an observant person and I like to write with sincerity what I think and live first hand. I’m shy and of few words; thus it’s difficult for me to engage in conversation. For that reason, my best tool for communicating is writing. I live in Marianao, Havana and am 40 years old.

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24 thoughts on “Cuba: Videos that Reach Us

  • fact is the world bank reports that there are few malnourished children in cuba and it has the best education system in all of latin america. also there are no homeless children roaming the streets as there are all over latin america.

  • Wow? Your baseline is dying from hunger? If you measure success along those lines, then Cuba works. The annual UN vote has resulted in what sanctions, loss of business opportunities, or reduced lifestyle for the American people? That toothless tiger scares no one. At the very least, anti-US hypocrites like you have far better reasons to criticize the US while enjoying the freedoms and privileges of living here. The Castros’ style of socialism has not resolved the issue of inequality either. The solution the Castros forced upon the Cuban people was to make everyone poor (except themselves, of course). How did that work out?

  • I will take that bet. Pro-freedom groups like the brave Ladies in White will have more international visibility with the arrival of a US Ambassador. That translates into more financial support from abroad, not less. The fight for freedom in Cuba did not end with Obama’s announcement. The goal is the same, the strategy has changed.

  • You are like the man who is drowning, water entering his lungs and still screams “I am ok I am ok…..” Happy New Year with a sovereign Cuba without US intervention of ex-cubans….I bet the damas blancso will dissapear into the hrorizon now they might not get money…maybe it will stop their internal squabbles..

  • Yes, the issue of inequality is relevant since you consider it a icon of democracy. This is true for the top 10 per cnet in the US. Nobody dies of hunger in Cuba, some die because you right wing ex-Cubans bore them to death with your tirades against the Cuban revolution. Do you know you are a tiny minority? More than 180 nations of the world voted to support the end of the embargo, only US and Israel (which gets billions from the US) voted against the resolution. As to the taxes in Social Democratic nations at least they get something in return, cheap education, good health care, subsidies for families and in the US? We get militarized cops killing young black and brown men.

  • Attempting to deflect with remarks not relevant to the post don’t fool anyone. Poverty in Cuba is real and increasing.

  • Cuban puff piece. The Castros have filled a niche that was and remains underserved. They pay slave wages to their doctors so it makes it economically feasible to sell their medical services abroad. Everybody wins. Carter is correct, among THIRD WORLD countries, Cuba’s population is one of the healthiest. But so what? If the US paid crap to our doctors we could revolutionize our medical system too. Personally, I am glad my doctor makes a lot of money. He earned it and I want him focused on helping me and not thinking about what he can afford to buy for dinner the way Cuban doctors think.

  • I won some money because I knew you would come back with this non sequitur…stay in the bubble while the world passes around you…as to Carter and Paul Farmer, watch and weep some more! On film!

  • It would have been nice to actually respond to my remarks and data. But, I know why you cannot!

  • Folks like you spend too much time focusing on limiting (or taxing) the incomes of high-earners and too little time creating opportunities for low-earners to raise their incomes. At the extreme, full-on communists like the Castros simply make everyone (except themselves) poor and call it income “equality”. Tax rates in Europe can exceed 50%! Germany’s lower ranking on income inequality should not be the goal of the US if it requires income transfers and taxes to reach levels comparable to Germany. But I digress, Cuba’s economy still sucks regardless of where the US ranks in income inequality.

  • The WHO data is based on the self-reported information supplied to the UN organization by the Castro regime. ‘Nuff said. Neither Paul Farmer nor President Carter are on record saying Cubans “are the healthiest population in the Americas!” You made that part up.

  • Read and weep, sorry to burst your bubble….World Health Organization, Paul Farmer from Harvard Medical School and even Jimmy Carter extol the health care system of Puerto Rico..of course you are going to say they are communist…predictable!

  • You should not flaunt your ignorance, first of all those are not based on Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development data but Worldwide, it’s like comparing Africa with the US! Read and weep….”Today, the
    average income of the richest 10% of the population in OECD countries is about 9.5 times that of the
    poorest 10%. In the 1980s, this ratio was 7:1. However, the ratio varies widely across OECD countries. It
    is much lower than the OECD average in the Nordic and many Continental European countries, but
    reaches around 10 to 1 in Italy, Japan, Korea, Portugal and the United Kingdom, between 13 and16 to 1 in
    Greece, Israel, Turkey and the United States, and between 27 and 30 to 1 in Mexico and Chile (see Annex
    Table A1.2). Even Spain has a lower GINI coefficient (measure of inequality) than the US! BTW 2014 not 2011

  • According to credible measures, the US is somewhere between #39 and #50 on the list of OECD countries with respect to income inequality. Your claim is inaccurate.

    Public schools in the US are free and as a result of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, quality healthcare is available at a reasonable cost to all Americans and poor Americans are covered by Medicare as well as state programs. You seem to repeat a lot of the Castro propaganda without checking your facts completely. Not a good idea.

  • First of all, cite your source for such a claim. It is not very smart to repeat Castro propaganda without making absolutely certain of the facts. Heart disease, suicide rates, cancer, alcoholism, to say nothing of dengue and cholera plague the Cuban population are comparably high rates. By what measure do you define “healthy”? Finally, statistics like infant mortality and child nutrition are based on self-reported data. Clearly, these measures coming out of Cuba should be taken with a grain of salt. The Castros lie all the time.

  • I guess that is why they are the healthiest population in the Americas!

  • Yeah, except that right now given the incredible inequality in the US higher than most OECD countries, with 48 milion poor (15%), most of them children (poverty is always understated in the US, if you are at or below $23,000 family of our you are poor. What can you get or buy or rent with $23,000 in the US a closet? No free schooling or healthcare, etc.

  • A child going hungry in the US doesn’t justify a child going hungry in Cuba. By design, capitalism will make some winners and therefore some will be losers. But “socialism” especially as professed to exist in Cuba is supposed to eradicate hunger and homelessness. If not, what is the point of making everyone poor? Lacking intelligent comments, I continue to be amazed when folks respond “eso pasa en los Estados Unidos todos los dias”. WTF?

  • Homelessness and hunger are worldwide problems. The difference is that the Castros would have the world believe that there is no homelessness in Cuba nor hunger, especially among Cuban children. The Castros spend thousands of dollars to promote that ridiculous propaganda while Cuban children go hungry. The TRUTH is that Castro-style socialism has failed in every way. It only exists in name today due to the beggar-nation status the country maintains through its pursuit of remittances, oil subsidies, loan forgiveness, and UN-funded programs.

  • Moving to the capital city incurrs certain risks, be it in Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, or any major city, either in North- or South-America–or anywhere, for that matter. Why would you expect the state to provide shelter for such families? It has a hard enough time providing shelter for those who are living there legally.

  • This situation is not unique to Cuba. Even in the First World, this is common, especially since the collapse of the so-called “safety net” in the early 1980’s. I remember one poignant incident during the years I worked as weekend house manager at the local homeless shelter. A father, mother and young child arrived at our doorstep; we were full and I had no $$$ to send them to a motel (as our monthly allotment had already been spent). The only resource I had was to cut a bus voucher to send them on their way, on the next Greyhound or Vermont Transit, back to New York City. In the meantime (since the bus only left once a day, and they had missed it) I don’t know what they did. Fire- and density-laws prevented them from remaining overnight at our shelter. Guess they found shelter for the night under a bridge or in a hallway. Fortunately, it was May or June, not January or February.

  • Una pena, eso pasa en los Estados Unidos todos los dias….

  • Sorry to pop your little TV Marti bubble, Warhol, but that World you are expecting to be so shocked by this video, is busy with acouple thousand things bien mas serio.

  • The realities of hunger and poverty and homelessness in Cuba are well-known to Cubans and ignored by pro-Castro foreigners (and pro-Castro commenters here at HT) who would prefer to believe the State propaganda that there are no homeless children in Cuba and no hungry Cubans. These problems seem to be getting worse and yet the Castro rhetoric continues to extoll the “triumphs” of the revolution. Given the heightened visibility that the new US relationship will bring to Cuban by the foreign press, it is hoped that more light will be shed on the truth that exists in Cuba displace the myths of free quality education, free housing and free medical care.

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