Por Rosa Martínez

Cuban health authorities giving their report.

HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban government has taken lots of measures to try and stop the COVID-19 outbreak here, which the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic just a few weeks ago.

Isolation is one of the measures that has proven most effective in avoiding transmission of this terrible virus. In Cuba, 67 cases have been reported up until now and they have all been imported. A total lockdown hasn’t been announced yet, which is to say that most workers are still going to work, except for teachers at every educational level, a few agencies that aren’t associated with production and services, and those who can work from home which are the rare few given the country’s own technological limitations.

Some people, myself included, take social isolation very seriously, as we know that this is the only way to prevent infection. I decided to be my family’s messenger/errand woman, that is to say that I am the only one who can come in and out of the house, and I always follow the safety measures I can to make sure I don’t bring any virus back with me, if I were to come into close contact with it, of course.

On the street, I keep my distance from people while I wait in lines – which is my main and almost the only reason I leave home (to look for food). I wear a mask I made at home, I try to not touch anything apart from what I’m going to buy, and the most difficult thing not only for me, but for everyone: when I run into friends or people I know, I greet them without hugs and kisses. A greeting without hugs and kisses has to be one of the strangest experiences for your average Cuban.

In my neighborhood, keeping yourself partially isolated or any other measure to prevent COVID-19 infection is a lot more difficult that wandering about the city’s streets.

As I’ve told you on different occasions, I live in a neighborhood on the outskirts of Guantanamo city, which means that most of my neighbors not only have a low purchasing power, but they are very friendly and talkative, and they think of each other as family.

And this familiarity is great in most situations, but awful under our current circumstances, as my neighborhood friends disregard the guidelines announced in the press and constantly move from one house to another, doing a favor, asking for something. Several of them meet up like they normally do to talk about some interesting matter, and nobody or nearly nobody is staying at home.

It’s true that we don’t have a confirmed case of COVID-19 here in Guantanamo yet, but does that really mean that we don’t have somebody walking about and spreading this virus left and right, without even knowing?

The country’s borders have been partially closed, at least to receiving citizens who aren’t Cuban residents; the Government took its long sweet time – most people recognize this – but it did finally close it. Now I find myself with the dilemma of finding a way to close our family border without hurting anyone’s feelings.

The truth is that I thought that it wouldn’t be so hard to set ourselves up at home in self-isolation what with how much information we have about how much havoc Coronavirus is wreaking all over the planet.

I just hope that when I do manage to close my border it isn’t at the same moment in time as when the country did it, which was a little too late.


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.

6 thoughts on “Closing borders in Guantanamo

  • I thank you again Nick. Yes, although Covid was rapidly crossing international boundaries irrespective of politics and although its threat was imminent, the Cuban Government was actually encouraging tourists to visit.
    You and I Nick share a concern for Cubans. You have put your finger upon the problematic areas of tourism and agriculture. We live in one of Cuba’s best agricultural areas with wonderful soils – an outdoor greenhouse, but sit in frustration when we observe programs on TV showing potatoes being hand gathered, bagged and loaded on trucks with commentators praising ANAP only a couple of miles away and yet are unable to purchase a single spud locally – even on the mercado negra.
    But the decline in tourism following Trump’s various actions resulted in over 300 tourist guides being laid off last October. That implies a severe reduction in tourist numbers.
    As one of the HT contributors wrote:
    “Today is about surviving. As individuals, families, nations and species.”

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