Leaks Continue a Year Later

By Safie M. Gonzalez

HAVANA TIMES – I think it’s been just over a year since I wrote an article just like this one, and the reality is that time is passing by and problems continue without a solution, and are even getting worse.

I’m forced to take the same route every time I leave the house, so it’s hard for me not to run into the same old holes, full of water on every corner. I live in a municipality in Havana that isn’t very central and it seems that’s reason enough for it not to be deemed important. I can’t remember how long it’s been exactly that these streets have been full with water leaking from broken pipes. Water that runs from one block to another, which we could perfectly call a river.

It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or a “water day” (the day this precious liquid is delivered to our homes, that isn’t every day), and the thing is our neighborhood and surrounding areas are full of water, regardless of the day. This isn’t news, I know, and lots of other Havana residents in the city’s many other municipalities are experiencing the same thing, but it’s about the little importance that is given to issues that are top priority for me.

As we know, stagnant water fosters breeding grounds for mosquitoes and it’s precisely at this time of year when Cuba has seen a surge in people sick with dengue. Epidemiologists are asking the population to help and to keep their houses clean, to prevent breeding grounds of the Aedes aegyptimosquito, but what about their responsibility? Public Health’s responsibility? Aguas de la Habana’s responsibility?

On the other hand, it’s also a matter of wasting water, which is just as important, as many citizens don’t even have access to this valuable resource, and they are constantly reminding us to save it.

Unfortunately, none of these companies are private. If they were, I think that the streets in my municipality would be completely repaired and the pipes fixed; zero leaks, zero potholes over a meter wide, where water accumulates. It’s another problem without a solution, one of the many we suffer here on the island, nothing new.

Read more from Safie M. Gonzalez here.



Safie M. Gonzalez

I was born in the 80's. I love nature and animals, as well as my country. I admire the sacrifice of a people. I consider myself a simple and honest person, therefore I detest injustices. I have a taste for the arts in general, but especially for literature, photography, and cinema. I believe in the power of the word and in the ability of the human being to change the world.

Safie M. Gonzalez has 44 posts and counting. See all posts by Safie M. Gonzalez

6 thoughts on “Leaks Continue a Year Later

  • Brewster Gisbourne:

    Brewster, good for you for your initiative and dedication to your community. I am sure your community is most proud of your community contribution to cleanliness.

    However, be serious, you are one in a million possibly one in many millions of Canadian men who do what you do. So, I am not incorrect in my assertion.

    Brewster writes: “ There is no incentive, called money, to do much of anything in Cuba. We all know this.” I agree with your statement that there is no monetary incentive to do much in Cuba because the value of the peso is next to worthless and to buy any consumer item for family consumption a Cuban needs American dollars to be used in a MLC store. This is a fact.

    You know that; I know that. However, I disagree with your generalized statement: “We all know this”.

    No, we don’t all know this. With regard to your personal pronoun “We” are you referring to Canadian tourists who come to Cuba for a one or two week stay in an all-inclusive hotel never venturing outside the confines of the hotel and then returning to Canada tanned and relaxed after their luxurious holiday?

    If so, these tourists emphatically have no concept or notion of why Cubans, unlike you, have no civic pride to venture out on the streets and repair roads for the benefit of the community. Do these Canadian tourists know about what you are referring when you say there is no monetary incentive to do much in Cuba?

    They know that Cuba offers them a sunny, warm, welcome respite and rest from stressful work in Canada and in their cocooned cozy resort have little to no interest in Cuban politics. Am I speaking of all Canadian tourists? Of course not. Again, I am willing to bet you, Brewster, that the majority side with a null knowledge of what you refer to as Cubans having no incentive to do much in Cuba because of a lack of monetary incentive.

    Brewster writes: “Capitalism works, totalitarianism does not, in any form whatsoever. Simple.” No. It is not that “simple”. Yes, we can agree that totalitarianism does not work for the majority of working poor Cubans who must suffer under its tutelage, but it works marvelously well for those few rulers in power who do not want to relinquish power and rule the masses with an iron fist.

    Capitalism works? Not in Cuba presently. Ask the poor Cuban entrepreneur trying to start a business, trying to expand a business, trying to operate in some semblance of “capitalism”; however, with the myriad of restrictive rules and regulations working to ensure the poor entrepreneur’s business does not succeed, it is hard to see how presently capitalism works in Cuba.

    Works well in Canada, though.

  • Unlike in rich relatively speaking, Canada, how many well fed, relatively well off Canadian men would you see taking the responsibility of repairing pot holes on the streets they inhabit? I am willing to bet: None.
    Stephen, you are incorrect. I do. I grab my shovel, walk down my gravel street and fill in the potholes when I want to. And yes the well paid city workers comes with a giant John Deere machine and grades my street as needed, filling in any holes.
    Do Canadian men sitting in a café – I would not describe them as lazy, though they may be – simply stand themselves up and venture unto the street in Canada and begin picking up stray coffee cups or other debris simply for the sake of cleanliness?
    Yes, I do daily. I walk down the street to take my girlfriend and dogs back to her house, turn around and pick up the garbage and bring it back to my house.
    As I am retired I have the incentive. There is no incentive, called money, to do much of anything in Cuba. We all know this. It is not rocket science. Capitalism works, totalitarianism does not, in any form whatsoever. Simple.

  • Robert wrote: “I have seen so many simple repairs that is no ones responsibility to take on this work in Cuba & again I have seen Cuban men take on & repair these water leaks & repair pot holes in the streets of Cuba. Not all Cuban Men have given up & some do make Cuba much better.”

    So, in essence then Cuban men are not, as you originally posted, those lazy Cuban men in the shade. You have widen your perspective and vision to be more inclusive and forthright.

    You have seen Cuban men take on and repair water leaks and repair pot holes in the streets of Cuba. Those Cubans need to be commended. Those Cuban men, perhaps, are doing those tasks on empty stomachs, perhaps exhausted from the stresses of trying to cope with daily trials and tribulations of living in totalitarian environment – not easy. Yet, despite their living conditions, they have the conscientiousness to help make their lives liveable.

    Unlike in rich relatively speaking, Canada, how many well fed, relatively well off Canadian men would you see taking the responsibility of repairing pot holes on the streets they inhabit? I am willing to bet: None.

    Why would they when a simple call to the municipality will have a well paid work crew there in a short time to do the repairs. Try that in Cuba and see how quickly the municipality responds to the call. They don’t hence the proliferation of potholes and neglected road repairs. I am sure a Cuban will tell you it has been 60 plus years since anyone of authority has put a shovel in a pothole in their neighborhood.

    This is why Safie’s article is so pertinent. Things are bad and getting worse.

    I agree with you when you state: “As in Canada there are lazy & some that just need to make a little difference that helps everyone.”

    If everyone pitches in, particularly and foremost, the Cuban government as Safie says they should, the Cuban infrastructure could be improved significantly. But will they?

  • Stephen: Cubans have had their chance in the Farm fields of Canada & I did ask a Canadian farmer why (Cubanos) did not return, Yes Canadian youth or the Woke as we call them have different ideas of how we Canadians should get ahead & work for a living or just have it handed over to them. I have seen so many simple repairs that is no ones responsibility to take on this work in Cuba & again I have seen Cuban men take on & repair these water leaks & repair pot holes in the streets of Cuba. Not all Cuban Men have given up & some do make Cuba much better. As in Canada there are lazy & some that just need to make a little difference that helps everyone.

  • Safie has provided a very good description of the decrepit state of the Cuban town and city infrastructure. Cubans on a daily basis must live with streets in a state of disrepair, potholes filled with stagnant water which is a breeding bowel for dengue carrying mosquitoes.

    The following statement posted by Robert is a direct negative criticism of Cubans and is irresponsible, false, and disrespectful to, to use Robert’s terminology, “ . . the average Cuba Man . . .”

    Robert writes: “Is it not time the average Cuba Man take a stand & get off his Ass out of the shade & make these repairs that are simple & needed. The Canadian Tourists have seen a lot of lazy Cuban Men in the shade . . . .”

    Robert, you are a Canadian, I presume, a fleeting tourist, and have obviously observed, in a myopic way, what Cubans must endure on a daily basis. Why would a Cuban man, particularly those as you say, “. . . lazy Cuban Men in the shade . . .” simply begin repairing Cuban infrastructure? Do Canadian men sitting in a café – I would not describe them as lazy, though they may be – simply stand themselves up and venture unto the street in Canada and begin picking up stray coffee cups or other debris simply for the sake of cleanliness? Are there not town or city well paid employees who do that work?

    Again why would Cuban men – lazy or not – have the inclination to simply begin repairing Cuban infrastructure? If the roads and streets have been left to disrepair for decades because the government chooses to spend its money on building luxury hotels rather than repair critical roads and sewers, why does the ordinary Cuban in your estimation bear the responsibility of the obvious government neglect?

    Safie is absolutely correct when she lays the blame squarely on the shoulders of the inept Cuban communist government who direct their citizens via propaganda to do one thing, yet are totally oblivious of their own responsibilities to their citizens.

    Safie writes: “Epidemiologists are asking the population to help and to keep their houses clean, to prevent breeding grounds of the Aedes aegyptimosquito, but what about their responsibility?” Ya, what about the communist government’s responsibility to clean up the pot holes, to hire, as Robert says, “ . . . .the average Cuba Man . . . “ and pay him a decent wage for his work?

    Do you think the average Cuban citizen would be sitting in the shade if his government took some serious responsibility and mobilized its citizens with well paying jobs that can support a family to work.

    How many Canadian men do we see working in the agricultural fields in Canada picking fruits and pruning vegetables? Very few. The Canadian agricultural industry relies totally on having imported agricultural workers from Mexico, Honduras, and other Latin American countries because such work is considered “demeaning” to Canadians, low pay, long hours, too difficult.

    I am sure if the Canadian government allowed those, as Robert describes,
    “ . . . lazy Cuban Men in the shade . . . .” to come to Canada to work in those agricultural fields, they would come in a flash.

  • Pot Holes & Piping services, Water or sewage tanks or pipping & the Cuban Men that can repair just about anything they put their minds too, Is it not time the average Cuba Man take a stand & get off his Ass out of the shade & make these repairs that are simple & needed. The Canadian Tourists have seen a lot of lazy Cuban Men in the shade & all blame goes to your Government for their creation, Time Cubans pitch in & Help out before there is nothing worth repairing or saving in Havana or all of Cuba.

Comments are closed.