“If the Covid Doesn’t Kill Us, the Garbage Will”

Collection trucks that rarely come and overflowing garbage dumpsters are part of the complaints in Central Havana. (14ymedio).

By Juan Diego Rodríguez (14ymedio)

HAVANA TIMES – In Central Havana the garbage cans have overflowed again. On Jovellar street, at the corner of Hospital, residents complain about the mountain of waste that mixes with the sewage water right in front of Medical Office Number 20.

“If the covid does not kill us, other diseases will,” a patient said this Tuesday morning at the door of the office. “Laziness and irresponsibility is what is going to kill us señora,” answers a man who is changing a car tire, while he observes some of the so-called “divers” who stop to rummage through the garbage cans.

Between Carlos Tercero and Pocito, the problem due to the lack of garbage collection looms. (14ymedio)

A neighbor of the neighborhood assures 14ymedio that she has not seen or heard the collection truck for days. “When it arrives, it is impossible not to notice it, even if it is not standing at the door. I hear it because it makes a lot of noise and the workers speak loudly. Those dumpsters have been overwhelmed for days and I have not heard them pass by, I called Comunales and they told me that yesterday there was a brigade working, which should have picked it up, the truth is that that did not happen.”

In a tour of the area, this newspaper has been able to verify that the garbage containers are full or overflowing, in some areas you can also see piles of rubble and other solid waste. The residents of the neighborhood complain about the proliferation of rodent and cockroach pests.

“It seems to me that they have no fuel, because until a while ago the collection worked quite regularly, with the new donated trucks. I can no longer handle the mice and cockroaches, even dinosaurs will come to visit us soon with such unhealthiness,” lamented a neighbor from Cayo Hueso.

And in Virtudes, between Soledad and Oquendo, the image makes the problem of garbage collection more than evident. “People’s Revolutionary Police, Please Do Not Throw Trash.” (14ymedio)

On March 1, 2020, new measures came into force and what was supposed to be a severe inspection system for collective cleaning, with fines that can reach 3,000 pesos, worked only for a short time. Faced with the failure to comply with the collection deadlines and hours, the neighbors once again cram the cans while the Communal workers shine by their absence.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

12 thoughts on ““If the Covid Doesn’t Kill Us, the Garbage Will”

  • Thanks Circles, anybody with experience of Cuba, knows that away from the tourist spots, “basura” is commonplace.

  • Carlyle, Sorry but I can’t post photos in the comment section.

  • “Relatively spotless”. I shall send a photograph to HT of exactly what he means. Maybe Circles will insert it.

  • Mr MacD is correct. There are parts of Cuba which are a mess. Particularly certain parts of Havana.
    But what he seems to refuse to acknowledge is the fact that many provincial towns are relatively spotless. He refuses to acknowledge this because it doesn’t fit in with the narrow narrative he likes to put forward.

  • Nick is absolutely correct, there are hundreds of thousands of acres of what was once good agricultural productive land in Cuba which are returning to bush – and can be described as “spotless”. Just take the Viazul heading east along the Autopista and see it, mile after mile!

    But with regard to rubbish, I invite Nick to pay a visit to the Baracoa public beach that lies on the coast west of Havana and the development of which was for Cubans, not tourists. At Baracoa itself, the swimming pool is two thirds full of rubbish. The huge car park is empty apart from rubbish. If one walks west through endless rubbish, after a couple of kilometers there is a supposed campground now abandoned apart from “security”. Then there is a small river and another “beach” of perhaps 15 metres of sand. A huge edifice with murals of “Che” and provision for six cafeterias, only one of which is in operation. Relief is possible, for there is but one toilet open for all. However, surprise, a shop selling rum and belief it or not, toilet paper. The litter of rubbish – old fridges, glass, even TV’s continues for a further two kilometers.
    Such is the reality!

  • Yorkshire huh?
    Yorkshire folk refer to it as ‘God’s own Country’.
    I would like to thank Mr MacD for possibly the first mention of the White Rose County, the county of the Richard The Third in the annals of HT?
    I would also point out that there are swathes of Cuba outside of Havana which are pretty much spotless. Unlike certain parts of Yorkshire. Certain parts of Yorkshire are sadly utterly despoiled and filth infested.

  • There is an old song in Yorkshire, England for which I will give the words in proper English rather than the vernacular.

    Oh, you can’t put your muck in our dustbin,
    our dustbin,
    our dustbin.
    Oh, you can’t put your muck in our dustbin,
    our dustbin is full.
    There’s rats in,
    There’s cats in,
    There’s my grandfather’s spats in.
    Oh, you can’t put your muck in our dustbin,
    our dustbin is full !

    The song was apparently popular in the 1920’s, but well represents the position in Cuba in the 2020’s. – except of course in Siboney!

  • For those who doubt whether it is possible to have clean streets and garbage removal, just visit Siboney. Different world, wonder why?

    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, is clean as a whistle. nothing to be mailed to Ottawa!

  • We don’t have that problem where I live in Canada. Once the bin is full, we mail the excess garbage to our members of Parliament in Ottawa, because mail sent to members of Parliament requires no postage. And then they just recycle it into climate action speeches.

  • Moses – even more interesting and a million times more threatening than garabage problem, is climate change. And following your argument, we have been careening towards a planetary disaster for years, with woefully little if anything actually being done about it. Oil interests buy and fund anti-science propaganda, and they buy politicians. So not only do these carbon-capitalists not lose their jobs (they don’t have to work), they also profit enormously from destruction of the environment we must live in. Where is the superiority in a system like that ?

  • Nick is absolutely correct that garbage in the streets is a recurring problem all around the world in both capitalism and socialism. My beautiful San Francisco also suffers from overflowing garbage on many streets. The difference in Cuba is that there are no consequences for government leaders responsible for street cleaning. No one loses their job for failure to provide basic social services. As a result, there is little incentive to correct a problem after it has become an issue.

  • There has long been a problem with this in the Cayo Hueso neighbourhood.
    I lived for a while in this neighbourhood over a quarter century ago in the midst of what was euphemistically called ‘The Special Period’. The problem was apparent then. It is apparent now.
    Where I am staying currently in the urban part of the U.K. there is a similar problem.
    I know people who live in this neighbourhood who constantly urge the authorities to find a solution to this problem. They are sick of the rat infestations.
    This is a problem in urban areas in many parts of the Capitalist world. Less so in rural areas. The same is the case in Cuba. Outside of Havana there are many places in Cuba which are spotless.
    If Yoani Sanchez and her good friends imagine that a switch to Capitalism will automatically solve this problem, then they may well end up sadly disappointed. If they suggest that this is a problem specific to Cuba, that would be mere propagandist fancy.
    I would suggest that Capitalism may produce certain changes for the better in Cuba, but I can 100% assure that it will not solve this kind of problem.
    If some people choose to think otherwise, they are simply delusional.
    There are a great many parts of the Capitalist world where filth on the streets is a problem with no remedy on the horizon. Or even the horizon after the horizon. Global warming will have its final damning word before this problem is vanquished from the Capitalist world.

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