HAVANA TIMES — “What are they building over there?” he asked, referring to a leveled, arid terrain he made out through the window of the bus we were on. “That’s going to be a District Attorney’s Office or a court” his travel companion replied. After a pause, he added: “Instead of building a disco or the hospital Alamar needs so much.” He went on to say: “Now they have the nerve to build a place where they can better enforce the law here…”
These people are probably not the only ones who, like me, wonder about this place, for half of the neighborhood’s residents pass through that spot on their way to or from work or school.
Perhaps, owing to one of the changed premises of our social system, they consider us guilty beforehand or guiltier than what we really are or how guilty we believe we are.
I believe that, to begin with, the justice system must consider us innocent (I don’t mean naive, of course) and then set out to prove that we are guilty of having committed a crime, before treating us like criminals.
Cubans, and people in Havana particularly, have many unmet daily needs. While tourist resorts, aquatic theme parks, golf courses, maritime ports and other things that do not immediately improve the lives of the average citizen are built elsewhere on the island, local governments do not mobilize their resources to build hospitals.
How many residents of Alamar have arrived dead to the closest hospital, such as the Naval hospital (which only accepts emergencies from our neighborhood). For all other medical concerns, we must go to the Calixto Garcia, a hospital located across the bay in Vedado.
Alamar is located about 10 kilometers from the city center. It is one of the most heavily populated localities of the Habana del Este municipality. A mere three polyclinics offer services to the many tens of thousands of individuals residing there.
This neighborhood, to be sure, is not the only one suffering such a shortage of health facilities.
Habana del Este is one of the largest municipalities in Havana. Only people living in Cojimar and Camilo Cienfuegos are entitled to receive treatment at the Naval, but there are plenty other neighborhoods in the area that need these: Bahia, Guanabo, Campo Florido, Barreras, Brisas del Mar, Alamar and others.
It may be that local governments are restrained to their locality in terms of jurisdiction and perhaps building a hospital is something beyond their financial possibilities, but that also strikes me as a facile pretext, leaving us in the unjust position of being considered unworthy of such attention.
Bearing in mind that a hospital will always benefit a greater number of people than those that become involved in crime or break the law in a given neighborhood and municipality, it seems to me that what they are telling us with this measure is that, to them, the majority of the population here is involved in crime.
The other suggestion made by the person in the bus, building a disco, should not be discarded, for the stress and the label of “bedroom-city” Alamar has earned for itself is already quite a burden.