The Resin Tree

Regina Cano

Havana has beautiful green areas but also barren neighborhoods with few trees. Photo: Caridad

I’ve just seen how a more than 20-year-old tree with medicinal properties has been thoughtlessly cut down.  It was felled by a neighbor of mine who lives in an apartment bordering the common garden of a building on the well-known calle de Los Almendros (Almond Tree Street) in the Alamar community.  Her justification was that she needed to divide her apartment for the benefit of her son and to clear the path for an unnecessary diagonal sidewalk.

It seems that such thoughtlessness extends to all those authorities related to as this.

This tree had properties excellent for treating colds and the flu, and possibly had other uses unknown by me.

Alamar, the community in which I live, is considered by many people who reside in the center of Havana (five miles away) as “the country,” a place where few wish to live.   Perhaps they say this jokingly, but they never cease to express it this way.

Where I live is a community that skirts the coast, and therefore is close to the sea.  However, as is characteristic of this climate, everything grows almost immediately, which results in what we call the woods.

Thanks to these characteristics, it’s not difficult to suppose that many trees once existed in this area, though they’re no longer here due to the Housing Construction Plan, which has been implemented over the past 30 plus years and has affected much of the zone.

Construction has not ceased, though it has tailed off considerably.  Still, the lack of attention and respect for the existence of the natural environment has undoubtedly affected the ecological balance of the area.  Though nature will recover in the long run, for the time being it has changed.

At the initiation of this housing development effort, a tree nursery existed with the aim of continually replanting the areas around the buildings’ the parks, children’s daycare centers, and any other space, with a great diversity of natural species.  With time that activity ceased, and all buildings constructed less than 15 to 20 years ago shine with vast tracks of cement, occasionally with not a single plant in sight.

All of this has engendered a sense of indifference toward nature.  The need for housing, which forced people to come to Alamar in recent times, and the lack of attention by the government officials in charge, has resulted in a level of detachment that has been fomented over many years and which is difficult to counteract.

Daily, one can witness the pruning or mutilation of trees to get rid of wasp nests or for new construction or to stem cracking sidewalks.  But no effort is made to replace them.  No search is conducted for a better place for the existence of this life that is so very important for people and animals.

Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.