Good Things That Turn Bad

Veronica Fernandez

Photo: Caridad

At the beginning of this year, they finally decided to respond to yet other of the aggravating problems that confronts the Cuban capital: water shortages.  During the first three months of this year, the Havana Water Department was working in the Cojimar community where I live, on the east side of the city.

We all were ecstatic because this would mean the resolution of a serious problem that had confronted the public for some time as those who don’t have water problems were the privileged few.  The crew began working over long days, street by street, with excellent, recently acquired equipment; this speeded up the work and made it less bothersome.

They opened ditches in the streets to put in new pipelines and to take out the old obsolete ones that for a long time had been serving no function.  After having made the connections —long hoped for by the residents of Cojimar— the crews had to test them.

The area’s residents were full of expectations and immense desires to see the situation resolved.

During the process of testing the lines, the workers realized that the new connections had not been made correctly and were resulting in major leaks.  This of course produced dissatisfaction among residents and plenty of comments about poor workmanship and the irresponsibility of the managers that had undertaken the job.  It became necessary to reopen up the streets to attempt to correct the situation.

However, this constituted only the first stage of the work by the Havana Water Department in this community.

It was supposed that the second stage —which involved filling the holes in the streets— would be much quicker, yet today the situation has still not been corrected.  Fifty percent of the holes were closed with a millimeter-thick layer of asphalt, which as soon as the first vehicle passed by caused the hole to re-open.  The other 50 percent of the holes were not covered up at all.  This is the phase in which I find the street in front of my house.

These holes —those types that were poorly covered and those that never were— cause pools of water to accumulate as soon as it begins to rain.  These then serve as breeding grounds for the Aedes Aegypty mosquito, the carrier of dengue fever.

With all this, I’m once again pointing out that Cuba, year after year, spends countless resources and efforts in major campaigns against this vector.  There are ongoing programs on Cuban television directed against this agent that transmits illnesses that can result even in death.

I wonder: Is it fair that this happens?  While some people make such tremendous efforts to eradicate mosquitoes, others —given their poor workmanship in carrying out their functions and the lack of accountability over their work— end up turning all the work done in one sphere into a waste.  In a few minutes of rain, all the progress made on one hand is negated on the other.

Again taking up the concept of revolution pronounced by Fidel, he said, “Revolution is to struggle with audacity, intelligence and realism…” Here, we are struggling to solve the problem of water shortages and we are struggling to combat mosquitoes, but nothing is worthwhile in this struggle if in it we don’t all pull in the same direction – otherwise we will not have strength.

Often, when we solve one thing, we end up transforming something else into a problem.  How long will this go on?   Is it that we don’t realize that we ourselves are capable of erecting our own blockades?

3 thoughts on “Good Things That Turn Bad

  • Did the author of this article to anything on her own to try to resolve this problem? She describes the problem well, but what did she, herself, a Cuban citizen living in and affected by this problem, actually DO to try to address the article, beyond writing in Havana Times, a foreign blog, where her comments were published in English?

  • Socialist democracy doesn’t mean having 2 put up with shoddy workmanship — the past experience of “actually-existing socialism” aside. In the capitalist West, shoddy workmanship is everywhere 2B found as well; but where even relatively-powerful interests R concerned — like city governments, 4 instance — pressure can & will B brought 2 bear on contractors & their employees 4 work not performed at the contractually-agreed-to level (corruption aside). There, the “bottom-line” is at stake 4 s/o, at least. & so 2, in a semi-socialist state like Cuba — where, unfortunately, not everyone has a highly-motivated grasp of their socialist responsibilities: people who will not care enough 2 do a ‘professional’ job *shouldn’t* B allowed 2 continue in that job. & in this case, the elected neighborhood committees should long ago have made sure that whoever is doing larger municipal projects in their jurisdiction R in fact doing their basic job. S/o should B fired here. Simply.

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