A Tough 5-Years Since Hurricane Sandy Hit Eastern Cuba

Rosa Martinez

Damaged caused by Hurricane Sandy in Guantanamo on October 25, 2012. Photo: Ariel Soler/ACN

HAVANA TIMES — It is truly difficult to make any project come to light on my beloved island. The self-employed know this well enough, those who began a long time ago and those who have started up their own businesses right now. Likewise, those who decide to build their homes by themselves can’t get everything they need even with cash in hand.

However, we ordinary Cubans are the ones who suffer the most, because we can barely live on our super low salaries; much less get involved in another business.

Ever since Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, which almost destroyed Santiago de Cuba and caused severe damage in the other eastern provinces including Guantanamo, and left my house trembling as it nearly tore off the roof all of a sudden, we haven’t been able to take a break.

The most urgent thing we had to do, which was clearly the first thing we had to do, was to repair the roof, which we luckily received government support for as the State put up half of the money for materials – fibreglass tiles, nails, cement – and also allowed us to pay the rest back in installments, via the Bank, which we are still paying.

Later, we found ourselves forced to buy a rice cooker, plates, cutlery and glasses, among other things, as the kitchen had collapsed and nearly all of the glass kitchenware and other kinds of kitchenware were destroyed when the roof fell through.

We also bought a new mattress, because no matter how much we tried to fix the one that had got wet in the middle of that terrible disaster, there wasn’t anyone who could get rid of the awful smell that was brought on by the damp, not to mention that we had been told that even though it might seem dry, it might have bugs.

It has been a long five years of many shortages, more than one loan from the bank, “inventing” on the side to try and collect a bit of money, and the worse thing is that we still have so many things we need to take care of.

I would say it has been a grey five-year period, not to say black. Only my family and I, especially the girls, know how much we have had to sacrifice in order to make a little bit of progress. Weekends stuck at home, entire holidays without going on holiday; clothes and shoes, only when we have no other choice; even our diets have been affected in one way or another.

It was an extremely hard five years, but it’s over now. My husband and I have said that we WON’T make any more extreme sacrifices; we’ll fix whatever needs to be improved or changed gradually over time. However, I have to ask myself, if it took us five long years to do just a little bit with the rope so tight that we almost strangled ourselves, how much more time has to pass before my family and I can live the dignified life we deserve!

Rosa Martínez

Rosa Martinez: I am another Havana Times contributing writer, university professor and mother of two beautiful and spoiled girls, who are my greatest joy. My favorite passions are reading and to write and thanks to HT I’ve been able to satisfy the second. I hope my posts contribute towards a more inclusive and more just Cuba. I hope that someday I can show my face along with each of my posts, without the fear that they will call me a traitor, because I’m not one.



9 thoughts on “A Tough 5-Years Since Hurricane Sandy Hit Eastern Cuba

  • A message to the non-Cubans who support the Castro regime! Note that this article is written by a university professor. Ask yourselves what the position would be i n you own country for a university professor affected by the same natural conditions?

    To Rosa: Your children are fortunate to have you as their mother and your husband as their father.
    I too hope that one day you will be able to show your face and that my wife will be able to openly express her views in Cuba.

    Reply
    • Your children are fortunate to have you as their mother and your husband as their father.
      These words mean the world to me. Thanks Carlyle MacDuff

      Reply
      • Rosa, I am the ‘Padrino’ of a six year old Cuban girl. My fervent hope for her and for your own children is that the day will come when they know the freedom that exists elsewhere, that they will be released from dictatorship and able to openly express their views.
        I have a deep respect for the people of Cuba and that increases as the years pass.
        I know of the struggles my wife experienced in bringing up my step-daughter, who today is a lawyer. I look at her and think of how I first knew her as a hard-working schoolgirl and of how dedicated my wife was in helping her and other students, for she like you, is a profesora.
        I have witnessed several times, former students of my wife, coming to our home following graduation from university, to simply say: “Thank you.”
        Yours is a critical role in society both as a parent and as a profesora!

        Reply
      • I did not know you could read and react to our comments. (Excuse my ignorance!) But it’s very nice when you answer our comments… Please continue!

        Reply
        • Sven, do please understand that Rosa takes risk and that she may not wish to disclose how she makes contact. Always remember that criticism of the regime in Cuba by Cubans is a criminal offence.

          Reply
          • You are right. I reacted by thinking only of my own pleasure to see that she commented on our comments…

          • Rosa is one very brave lady. You may note Sven that the regime supporters do not have the courage that she displays, for they hate admitting the reality she records and which they cannot dispute.

  • Rosa, you sound like a beautiful person and I am so touched reading your stories of struggle. You and your family are rich in grace. I hope when I visit Cuba for volunteer work I am able to convey my deep respect for the resiliency of the people under such harsh conditions. Carlyle you just keep up the good words!!

    Reply
    • Maria thank you very much for your words, we keep fighting and pushing.
      Rose

      Reply

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