Reports from Cuba: SOS Cuba: Sewers without manhole covers and buildings in ruins

Rene Gomez Manzano reports from Havana via CubaNet:

SOS Cuba: Sewers without Manholes and Buildings in Ruins

Cuban cities look like they have been through a terrible war. It’s no wonder!

It was news last Friday in Cuba that an elderly man died when he fell in a sewer that had no manhole. The deceased was seventy-year-old Ernesto Leyva, from Camagüey. This digital medium –among other independent news outlets- covered the terrible event. Not so Adelante, Camagüey province’s newspaper.

Our search on this regime newspaper’s website (under the deceased’s name or under details of the accident) led nowhere. Added to that tragedy, very unusual for a civilized country, are other reports by the real Cuban press –I am referring to the non-government press- that reveal the dismal conditions prevalent in Cuba.

Along this line, a column published last Saturday on CubaNet by our colleague from Villa Clara Laura Rodríguez Fuentes, tells of the dire conditions of the Florida Hotel, described in the column’s title as “an iconic building in Santa Clara in ruins.”  The description states that “wild plants grow on its balconies and the inside is filled with debris and garbage.”

Similar news is published elsewhere. A few days ago, on October 10th, a Cuban national holiday, the collapse of a building in Old Havana was announced. There were three casualties in that tragedy. Recently, on October 20, Diario de Cuba reported: “A collapse in a school in the city of Caibarién left two students injured.”

Along those lines, a 14yMedio headline sarcastically stated: What destroyed the Lebredo, “the best maternity hospital in Cuba”, wasn’t a missile. Journalist Nelson García was even more sarcastic when he emphasized a common characteristic of all these ruins: “the revolutionary slogans written in large print on partially-collapsed walls.”  In this particular case, one that is really a mockery: “There is no aggression that Cuba can’t survive.”

I could list similar quotes, but I don’t want to bore my readers. Our Cuba is falling to pieces, literally. This reminds me of a memorable scene starring the great Vittorio De Sica (as a comedic actor and not as dramatic one, which he was, also, and excelled at it). The film is an Italian comedy whose title I don’t remember now.

The city where events take place in this film (after the end of World War II) boasted numerous ruins. The main character (played by De Sica himself) kept asking for the causes of each ruin that he encountered. “An earthquake?” “A bombing?” But he was never accurate in his observations, which is what made the whole film funny as everyone understood that he –the character- meant the opposite of what he was saying.

A foreign visitor to Cuba today could contemplate the very visible ruins of Havana or any other city in this island, and ask: “An earthquake?” “A bombing?” “The Castros?” The questions wouldn’t be funny this time. Since Santiago de Cuba is the only city in the isand that experiences earthquakes, and very mild ones at that, and since our country has not experienced a war in more than half a century, the answer to the visitor’s questions would always be the same: “The Castros!”

Clearly, the 14yMedio headline I have just quoted hits the nail right on the head, because the magnitude of the visible destruction is such that visitors not previously warned could think that it is the result of a destructive missile fired by the “imperialist enemy” to cause the grave damages that can be seen, especially at the iconic Lebredo Hospital.

But that is not the case. We could say, however, that Cuba has suffered a tremendously destructive war after all: the war that the communist Castro regime has waged since 1959 to destroy private initiative and free markets. This has brought about the proliferation of neglect and carelessness, scourges that are reflected in the demolished buildings and all those sewers without manholes.

They are also reflected on building façades that have no owners to care for them. They remain unpainted and without maintenance for years. It would seem, judging from their appearance, that they have suffered from a pernicious and deadly illness, a form of leprosy. To be honest, that is precisely the truth: we are talking about Castro-Communism, surely a type of leprosy.

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