Hurricane Memories

By Sara

HAVANA TIMES – Due to its geographical location, Cuba is the direct target for hurricanes and tropical storms that hit the Caribbean from June 1st until November 30th. It’s almost like I’m listening to one of those propaganda ads on TV about this time of year, when they make a show and boast about all the safety measures in place for residents and their belongings when these atmospheric phenomena sweep through the island. But that’s all it is most of the time, just a TV show to sell a fake sense of security to the rest of the world.

A few days ago, I was talking to a friend who had gone to one of the hardest-hit areas by the last hurricane (Ian) to hit the island, sweeping up homes, food, clothes, dreams and the little hope people had left in its wake… leaving the material and moral ruin of a people who have already sunk into extreme poverty. 

Guanima, a coastal town in Alquizar, a municipality of Artemisa province, was selected by a group of young people to give donations, that they had collected between friends, acquaintances, and anyone else who had helped in the human task of sharing something with those who had lost everything. The sea claimed its ground back, lunging at the town, destroying, and taking everything in its path. Residents had been evacuated, (forced to leave their homes) due to climate conditions.

Milagros, a woman living in the town says that when they came back, very few people found their houses still standing, some only had a room left, and the majority were only left with their memories.

“We found a solution amongst us neighbors,” Milagros said. “We built some little rooms with whatever the hurricane left behind and here we are.” “We’ve spent nights sleeping on the floor or on some blankets, the few things we have left are still drenched in sea water.” Mattresses, clothes, an electrical appliance or two, everything was water and salt.

After Hurricane Ian hit, many countries sent donations to Cuba, so I wonder, where are they? Who is responsible for distributing these supplies to the victims? Milagros also wonders the same thing, every second, every day and every night when she has to put her 4-year-old granddaughter to sleep in a cot and then she gets as comfortable as she can on the floor. Milagros’ daughter left the house one night and told her: “mami, look after the girl for me, I’m going to send for you”; she got onboard a rustic boat looking for a dream far-removed from Cuban reality, looking for a way out. Milagros’ daughter couldn’t escape the sea…

Residents in the town happily received the young people who had come to help them with some supplies. Andres, an old neighbor in the community, said, “it’s so good you came here muchachos and give us these things yourselves”; “things have come in before, donations too, I myself helped to unload some boxes of soap and cooking oil, but we weren’t given any of it. They distributed everything between the Communist Party representative and some cadres. We didn’t get anything.”

So, I ask you, where is the humanity? Where is the solidarity of helping those in need? Or does this only apply to people outside Cuba’s borders, who are swimming in all the media propaganda that can exist?

Milagros, her granddaughter, Andres and so many others who had their roofs and will to live taken by Ian are all there. They are staying in the ruins that was once their community, they are fishing whatever they can to survive, to give food to their families, they are fishing for dreams.  

Read more from Sara’s diary here.

One thought on “Hurricane Memories

  • It has been reported that even donations that arrived through the International Red Cross have been directed first to Party loyalists and what’s leftover being sold. Shameful…

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