Santiago de Cuba Abandoned to Its Fate

By Alberto Hernandez 14ymedio

The disastrous hygienic-sanitary situation that Santiago de Cuba is going through reflects the inability of the authorities to solve basic problems. Photo: Alberto Hernández / 14ymedio

HAVANA TIMES — Santiago de Cuba, known for its carnivals, its suffocating heat and the hospitality of its people, today presents a bleak panorama. The city is depressed by hunger caused by the shortages of all kinds of food, the diseases that are becoming more frequent every day due to the lack of medicines which have been missing for months, and now, as if that were not enough, the accumulation of all kinds of waste in its streets.

The inhabitants of the city wonder what happened to the sound, sometimes annoying, of the bell that announced the arrival of the garbage trucks, after which everyone rushed to put out the waste stored in their houses. The trucks just vanished, as if by magic. Now, the waste is simply stuffed in sacks and dumped in the first corner, or hung from any tree, forming what is known as micro-dumps. The containers that were once, long ago, distributed throughout the city, simply disappeared and are now an endangered species.

Given the worrying situation and the daily criticism of the population, the Government, advised by the directors of the public company Servicios Comunales, which is in charge of cleaning the city, explain that the main problem is the breakdown of the waste collection trucks (together with the lack of fuel, tires, batteries, various spare parts and endless excuses). But, how is it possible that individuals keep their vehicles – dating from the 40s or 50s – in good condition and state companies, with all the tight control of resources, cannot guarantee that a fleet of a few dozen trucks will remain in operation? When it is wanted, it is resolved, and when it is not, a good justification is sought, as the saying goes.

Comunales, taking the situation into account, has supposedly hired some 325 animal-drawn carts to sanitize the city and thus compensate for the lack of trucks. I say supposedly because, if those 325 wagons were working every day, we would not have that chaotic panorama now presenting in the city.

The inhabitants of the city wonder what happened to the sound, sometimes annoying, of the bell that announced the arrival of the garbage trucks. Photo: Alberto Hernández / 14ymedio

To top it all, there are now record levels of Covid-19 cases in the city, and hundreds of micro-dumps on any corner complicate the situation. The coronavirus has joined other pests that plague the Santiago population and that are closely related to poor hygiene, such as scabies, lice, and dengue fever, the latter transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that has as a breeding ground the many open air waste dump.

In addition, the sewers are clogged and, instead of evacuating wastewater, they expel it to the public thoroughfare, as is frequently observed in the lowest points of Santiago de Cuba.

Ignoring hygienic risks, more and more people “dive” into landfills looking for any of the sorts of things that will help them survive. Driven by hunger and despair, many inhabitants even take refuge in garbage dumps.

The disastrous hygienic-sanitary situation that Santiago de Cuba is going through reflects the inability of the authorities to solve the basic problems of Cuba’s second city. The capital of the East is today the shadow of what it once was.

Read more from Cuba here.


3 thoughts on “Santiago de Cuba Abandoned to Its Fate

  • September 12, 2021 at 6:56 am
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    Helping a family in Cuba for 4 years now, you still have blackouts in Cuba for half the day with stifling heat, lack of food, lots of cases of the virus and people dying every day, you are not lifting a finger to help your people.
    You claim to have free medical, but there is no Medicean to be had, free schooling but now because of virus everything on t.v, very poor government, you were not elected by the people, instead chosen by the former leader to lead the country, which you are miserably failing, offered help from other countries but you have declined, I feel sorry for the people of Cuba, very nice and helpful, you can build resorts for tourist but can take care of your own people, what a disgrace, with the money they make if they are fortunate to find a job, you take half of it away, my friends have not been able to work for 18 months and no help from the government.
    Stop being so selfish and help the people survive.

  • July 18, 2021 at 7:44 pm
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    what is wrong with you people. i mean the goverment. take care of your people your country i seem to be doing more than you, i am an individual in another country who seems to care more about the island and the people than thier own goverment. this is sad im one person trying to help a couple of families. and it seems like i do more than the goverment does. this is completly insane. what is wrong with you people that are responsible for the people of cuba? do you not have decency for what you are obligfated to do.as a leader of a country? who cares what the us does stop using this as an exuse. stop being greedy. and take care of your people there is so many countries in the world trying to help for so many years. and yet the people suffer constanly it is in humane and despicable. no wonder all cubans want to leave. what is wrong with you people? i have nothing more to say. imanage a truck shop in canada and probably better suited to do job your suppose to br doing. i would take of the people of cuba . i among many other canadiens and many other countries try our best to help the cuban people yet you forbid it. dictatoriship is the past . step down and free your people. grow up and join the present world around you. in witch we all live. let the people live like the rest of the world .the US and its sanctions are not an excuse for the state of all the issues that the people of cuba are going through .that is on the powers that be keeping it that way. this is 2021 not the 1960s grow up. its so disgusting to see leaders of a country a beautiful island, with beautiful, kind and caring people just trying to live like the rest of the planet .but not allowed too. what gives yous the right. did the people of cuba do something to you. whatever you told ,taught,brought up to believe is not humane, nor decent. following the old ways is toxic, and detrimental to life in general. please i beg of you to do what needs to be done. you have the power to make things good and healthy and happy and joyous for the people ,your people of cuba. dont deny the opportunities that are given to the people from abroad and the opportunities given to your leadership .stop playing the games of the US thry are immature and irresponsible you dont have to be. i sincerly wish nothing but the best for you, your family all the people of cuba and everybody on the planet. please stop the past haunting the future. only you right now can do that. so do it.

  • May 31, 2021 at 1:52 pm
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    Cubano,s Really Need to ask, What has Happen to all The Tourist $$ Taken in Over How Many Years The Canadians First Step Foot on Your Beach Side Resorts with Providing your Government More then enough Foreign Cash to Support a Better life then the Poverty Smelling of Cuban Life Today. Where Has Your Money Gone we have Given all your Cuban Families & Children. The Canadian Mission became a Cuban Regimes Corrupt Swindle we Know Now & The Cash Flow will never Return until your Regime will Steps aside & Permit Honesty in your Country.

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