Sometimes No One Is To Blame

Rosa Martinez

sequia en cubaHAVANA TIMES —The widespread tendency to blame the government for all the bad things that happen to us may be owed to having lived – for many years – in a social system filled with obstacles, where some leaders take advantage of their positions to live comfortably, rather than solve the most pressing problems faced by the people who, in one way or another, elected them.

The fact of the matter, however, is that not all Cuban leaders are corrupt, nor is the government to blame for all of the shortcomings of the socialist system as such.

If, for instance, the garbage truck doesn’t come by the neighborhood as often as it should, we immediately think there’s a shortage of fuel or vehicles, or that the trucks are probably idling in a shop somewhere because of a lack of spare pieces (things having to do with municipal and provincial governments). But it can happen that the garbage people assigned to our area are, quite simply, totally irresponsible, as often turns out to be the case.

If there’s a pot-hole in the middle of the street, we find it easy to say that all streets in Cuba are in dreadful condition. It is true that, in many cases, city workers tear up the streets for repair work and leave the job half-done, but it also happens that we are responsible for these pot-holes. Ignoring city planning laws, we tear up the street to install water pipes or drains and, after we’ve solved our problem, leave behind a shoddy job that affects everyone who uses the street, including ourselves.

Owing to the extreme drought affecting Cuba’s eastern provinces, water is now being distributed to the inhabitants of Guantanamo only once a week. Even though no one is to blame that the floodgates of heaven have been sealed by Saint Peter, some continue to blame the government for the extreme water shortages we face in Guantanamo.

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.

8 thoughts on “Sometimes No One Is To Blame

  • In so many of the comments from you that I have read, you seem to blame everything on the US embargo, no matter what the problem is.
    The US is but 1 country out of many, so while both the US and Cuba are close, distance wise, there is no reason that Cuba cannot trade with other countries- and does do so.

    Cuba is not poor because of the US embargo.

    Cuba is not short of paint, plaster, cement or other materials all because of the US embargo.

    You are like a broken record about the embargo and blaming the US for everything- better to find solutions than try to make something else done by another country responsible for all a country’s ills.

  • First , Cuba has a state capitalist economy.
    It does not have a socialist economy which requires a bottom up worker controlled workplace.
    Second, the U.S. has an embargo upon Cuba that was put in place 54 years ago with the specific purpose of making all the Cuban people poor .
    They are poor largely because the U.S. embargo works very well .
    The government spends its money on health, education and welfare.
    Cuba is the only Latin American country without childhood malnutrition.
    It spends 10% of its budget on education. , things like that which does not leave money for paint, cement and infrastructure repair.
    Third, you’ve already been told that comparing Cuba to the USA makes no sense at all.
    Welcome to HT

  • You will note that I commented upon the leadership that the City of Edmonton administration provides and that agrees with your comment about your elected officials. The significant difference in Cuba appears to be that at all levels of government be it national, provincial or municipal, the function is one of control not leadership and cooperation. Hence there is no trust.
    The consequences are that very few care. My wife – who holds a significant role in education now detects a similar problem with students at secondary level:
    “Why should I bother, it makes no difference.” being a frequent comment.

  • Singapore, which is considered a democracy, has an autocratic management style which seems to work well. I would venture to guess that the Cuban government could very easily do the same thing due to their dictatorial powers. I’m not sure why they don’t make similar edicts of keeping things tidy. Maybe they try but aren’t really serious about it or don’t have the money to do it. Partly cultural? I don’t know. In Singapore, chewing gum is prohibited and not allowed to be sold. This is an extreme example, but it works. You can see the difference in cleanliness when you cross the bridge from Singapore into Malaysia. Singapore clean-Malaysia dirty!

  • You’re correct Carlyle. I make comparisons with the U.S. only because that’s where I live. I realize you could substitute other western nations, but I don’t know how they work and I have a pretty good idea of how U.S. bureaucracy works because I spend a fair amount of time staying in touch with my elected officials and those elected officials are very good at communicating what they are doing to earn our (or my) trust and support.

  • There is a self evident lack of motivation for government workers in Cuba, be it at national, provincial or municipal level. Who cares – who has responsibility? In our town, the garbage workers are fairly good and garbage is collected regularly. But notices requesting people not to dump posted at places where people regularly dump garbage are ignored. This appears to reflect a lack of civic pride. The same lack of civic pride is evident with the leaking water pipes and pot holes that are a consequence of digging up the roads to make utilities repairs. The consequences just add to the appearance of the infrastructure crumbling.
    When visiting Canada, my wife regularly comments upon how tidy the streets are in Edmonton and how even cigarette butts are placed in the provided containers. The city helps to organize a city clean-up each spring and hundreds of volunteers appear. Apart from her native Cuba, the only other place she has visited is the UK where she made similar comment.
    One can only conclude that Cubans are too occupied trying to “resolver” their own problems rather than those of their society. It is distressing for those like Rosa, trying to bring up her two daughters to be responsible citizens, but where is the community leadership when dictation is the rule? Who motivates who?

  • Donald, I’m not just picking on you, but your post reflects a curious apparent necessity for Americans to always introduce comparisons with the US. The first part of your post is fine and correct, but in the second part one could substitute Austria, Norway, France or Canada for the US. Just an observation.

  • A poor socialist country like Cuba will continuously suffer with poor utility services and infrastructure needs to repair roads and ensure adequate municipal water requirements. That’s just how it works (or doesn’t). The U.S. isn’t totally immune from poor planning and inadequate funding, but it eventually gets things done because state representatives and senators listen to their constituents (those who elected them) and their budgets are eventually approved.

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