By Lynn Cruz
HAVANA TIMES — Three days after hurricane Irma swept through the city, comments on the street about the high number of fatalities reveal that everything has been the result of carelessness.
So, the human lives lost during hurricanes before 1959 were also because of the victims’ negligence?
Another serious question is, why is that the number of people who died for every hurricane that came by this way never exceeded two or three before 2017?
Or maybe, why is that in Miami, a city in a rich country, businesses began to close down since Wednesday so that people could get ready for the intense and dangerous hurricane and things carried on in Havana like nothing was happening?
On Saturday morning, some places were still open such as banks and exchange offices, because as the majority of people in the capital had worked until Friday, they hadn’t had time to get ready and stock up on supplies to also face the crisis afterward with no electricity, water and gas.
However, in tourist areas, all measures were taken maybe because being “good hosts” is something that defines us, but like my grandmother used to say: “You can’t have an oil lamp out on the street and darkness in your home.”
Not only did people not get ready but state-owned businesses such as stores, international flight booking agencies and gas stations near Havana’s Malecon were left to their fate, which have been added to the list of material losses in a poor country which is still under an embargo. Who is to blame for this?
As part of the capital’s Vedado neighborhood’s urban design, numerous ficus trees can be found which have been harmoniously integrated with a functional purpose. These lovely trees not only make it more beautiful but they used to let people walk under their shade and escape from the sun and intense heat.
I’m talking in the past tense because there have been many lost battles that have taken place between residents and tree killers, who almost always have some kind of legal protection or an evil neighbor who unconsciously wants to get rid of the tree because of ridiculous reasons like: “it’s covering the front of my home” or “rats come in on its branches”, and they end up also destroying the neighborhood’s urban design.
It’s a fact that the size of the tree head determines the size of its roots and given the fact that these ficus trees have been neglected and not cared for, their roots have overgrown and this has therefore caused pavements to be raised or even parts of streets next to them, sometimes.
Not only are they not being cared for (accept for in some more visible spots on G Street), but now, after the disaster caused by Irma, neighbors are beginning to blame these trees instead of the people responsible for neglecting them.
One of the first measures that needs to be taken in the case of danger from hurricanes is pruning, but this wasn’t done either. Now, they are pruning trees in Havana, but only after the disaster and with the threat to do away with the ficus trees, to “get rid of the problem once and for all.”
So, a new wave of darkness is threatening Cuba and its inhabitants, the lack of preparation to deal with natural disasters, something which had been a great achievement of the now-extinct “Cuban Revolution”.