Havana Scenes (I)

Yenisel Rodriguez

Havana flower seller.

He was pushing a long wide cart loaded with boxes full of books.  He’s a self-employed carretillero (a wheelbarrow operator), which means that his occupation consists of moving books from his house to the Plaza de Armas in Old Havana, where they’re sold to foreigners.  He sweats a lot, but his ten-year-old son helps out.  All of this reminded him of where Jose Marti wrote that it didn’t matter what job you might have, only that you really work.

A woman appeared, well dressed and neat.  I’d almost say that she was swaying in her walk.  She stopped the man with his wheelbarrow, since it turned out that she was an inspector.  She requested to see his papers and seemed a little upset.  She reviewed them and asked a few questions.  She was inquisitive, but she doesn’t hear the carretillero.  She gave him a lecture about how he had broken the rules and finally gave him a ticket.  The worker humbly accepted the fine and signed it.

She then walked away proud of having fulfilled her role.  She took her fan from out of her handbag, continued her walk and disappeared.  The government pays her a wage so that she can perform such a job.  Marti also wrote that no one is entitled to receive sustenance from the authority that attacks and ignores.

The carretillero looked at me and commented that he couldn’t take his license with him because he sweats so much, and he continued with his work.  Since he pays a tax to the government to do his job, I was reminded of these additional words by Jose Marti:

“You go from being the serf of yourself, to becoming the serf of the government.  From being the slave of capitalists, as they’re now called, you would become the slave of government officials.  Slaves are all those who work for someone who dominates them; and in that socialist system the community would dominate the individual who would give the community all the fruits of his/her labor”.

Yenisel Rodriguez

Yenisel Rodriguez Perez: I have lived in Cuba my entire life, except for several months in 2013 when I was in Miami with my father. Despite the 90 miles that separate Havana and Miami, I find profound reasons in both for political and community activism. My encounter with socio-cultural anthropology eight years ago prepared me for a commitment of love for cultural diversity.



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A man and his dog, Havana, Cuba – Photo of the Day- By Charlie Lockwood (UK). Camera: Canon:6D Mark II

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