Darkness Falls Over Cuba after Hurricane Irma

September 13, 2017 |

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”.

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  • Jon

    The trouble with havantimes is comments like “the now-extinct “Cuban Revolution”. It’s such a broad statement that it calls out for explanation. It amounts to being a non-sequitor.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Whereas the Havana Times selects those whose articles it publishes, it is rather incidious to imply that in consequence it is responsible for every comment and opinion made or given in those articles Jon.
      Unlike ‘Granma’ the official daily organ of the Communist Party of Cuba, Havana Times publishes articles by a wide spectrum of political and social viewpoints for which in my opinion it deserves credit not criticism.
      Unlike the Castro communist regime, which censors and stifles any information which runs contrary to their oppressive system, Havana Times provides freedom of expression. That Jon is I know, unpalatable to communists and communist sympathisers, but as long as there is a free press, you will just have to put up with it.

      • grok

        Havana Times publishes anti-communist tripe on a regular basis. I used to read it years ago for its occasional insights on social/political life in Cuba, which are hard to get outside the island. Today, I’m more interested in watching its capitalist apologists make excuses for the failing U.S. Empire.

        Who reads Granma? I haven’t, for many years.

        • Carlyle MacDuff

          If ‘grok’ you are seeking an example of a failed Empire, you need look no further than the USSR.
          Obviously as you don’t visit Cuba, you cannot read Granma, but I can reassure you that it being controlled by the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba, is sticking to the Party line. It isn’t entertaining any longer, because Fidel Castro gave up years ago writing his daily “Revelations”. I trust that you do not include myself as an apologist for the US.

          • grok

            Granma has been LONG available online, in one form or another. They had/have even english podcast/radio spots, I believe. AND I used to listen to ‘Radio Havana Cuba’ on shortwave, decades ago. Just because I COULD.

            As for failed Empires: the entire Planet is watching U.S. Imperialism implode before our very, astonished, collective eyes.
            It AIN’T a pretty sight, as they say…

            And yes: in fact I *do* consider you, ‘MacDuff’ an Imperialist apologist. Of which particular NATO regime I could care less.

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            As usual ‘grok’ you are out of date – this time for three years. Unless you want to read three year old Granma in English online, don’t bother going there!
            As regards shortwave radio, it isn’t much use in Cuba as the communist regime being in constant fear that information about the outside world might be available to the people of Cuba blocks transmissions. I know, I have a short wave radio in Cuba! Yes ‘grok’ you could listen to ‘Radio Havana Cuba’ because you were enjoying capitalist freedom!
            Of course you hate NATO, it saw out the failed USSR Communist Empire of which you communists were so enamoured. But NATO now includes many of those countries that were imprisoned by the Soviets and which upon gaining their freedom from the communist yoke and being given opportunity for multi-party elections, firmly rejected communism! Which given open choice, is what intelligent folks do!

          • grok

            First off: any reader would/could reasonably take what I wrote to mean that I hadn’t been following the cuban media for some time (not ever very deeply, in fact). So you’re –once again — exposed as having an agenda.

            Secondly: the stalinist cuban regime is NOT ‘communist’.

  • grok

    The common thread thruout the entirety of Havana Times’ existence online, is a crude anti-communism/pro-capitalism: which makes absolutely NO distinction between proletarian socialism (essentially unrealized anywhere, at this time) and the stalinist history of the de facto bourgeois-nationalist Cuban Revolution.

    Now, this serves U.S. Imperialism FAR more than it serves the Caribbean working-class and peasantry.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      As you are so critical of freedom of expression ‘grok’, may I suggest that you ease your mind by reading ‘Granma’ and quit agitating yourself by bothering with the Havana Times.

  • Gerard Matthews

    Mr Castro and his cohorts put the mighty £$ and any other western country’s currency before the welfare of the Cuban people.

  • Ginni

    So sorry, to read that the CUBAN Elections are having to be rescheduled. Hope that the people wanting to run for office are able to follow through with services to the Cuban People, especially after what all has happened with IRMA causing soo much damage to the Island.