Living on the edge in Centro Habana

Por: Lázaro Numa Águila

Centro Habana
Centro Habana, Cuba
Centro Habana, Cuba

Any epidemiological situation, even if it does not reach the pandemic category, is complex, causes trauma and leaves sequelae. In Cuba every year we face some, say Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, Conjunctivitis, Meningococcal Meningitis and even Cholera. None of these names are any stranger to us. Each of them has its own form of propagation, but in all the human transfer factor is present. The Covid – 19 thus spreads, from person to person, hence the constant call to citizen estating. Each such situation also has to bring experience to government and health entities, which then allow them to create action plans that help prepare better social, economic and political scenarios for future clashes with similar, even worse events.

Today I will stop at the Popular Council Los Sitios of the municipality Of Centro Habana, which has become a real Gordian Knot in the confrontation with coronavirus in the capital. Is this the first time it’s happened? No, in each of the epidemiological situations that emerge year after year the same thing happens, only now it is a pandemic with a high level of propagation and visuality. In the face of each public health outbreak, great efforts must be made in the area to avoid dire consequences. I set aside in this reflection the situation inherent in HIV, this People’s Council is one of the highest rates of patients and carriers in the municipality, but it is not an epidemic. Many may be the factors that affect the problem, but without a doubt, the housing and hygienic issue of the area plays a key role in the issue.

Los Sitios is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, where poor settlers were historically settled. The plot was the option at the hand of port workers, tobacconists and day laborers of all kinds. Many emerged from old colonial garages and tobacco warehouses divided into rooms to “live” very closely, almost always made of wood. The water supply was always precarious. Bathrooms and sanitary services were granted for the tenant bus. Everything was left by the owner in the hands of a manager who lived on site and paid with his work.

Some sources argue that there are still fifty-four citadels of this type in the People’s Council, but in a single block the author of these lines has been able to count up to seven and in the street Sites, from Rayo to Belascoaín there are 19, most of them real constructive and health slums.

El interior de una ciudadela en Centro Habana resulta siempre un panorama entristecedor.
The interior of a citadel in Centro Habana is always a sad panorama.

The demographics of these places have been multiplying in relation to their capabilities. Today they live in the same space up to four times the numbers of people for which they were conceived, with active components of several generations, great diversity of interests and forms of life without relationships with each other. Constructive states are deplorable, although in some cases, with their own efforts, each neighbor has been improving their living space in accordance with individual possibilities, sometimes solutions challenge the imagination.

When you enter a citadel you find a universe of individualities. Cultural and professional levels are similar to those of any segment of our population, but because of historical discriminatory stigmas, most of them carry upon themselves the myth of marginality, only by living on a plot. These are old unresolved prejudices in our society. It is true that there are individual manifestations of marginal character and magnitude, but not all individuals are equal. Most inherited the habit of their predecessors, who were only poor and in high black numbers. They have had to live under very specific dynamics out of necessity, not pleasure. They have remained residing for decades in situations of marginalization and baptized in a source of euphemisms ranging from “free usufruct” to “disadvantaged population”, when the truth is that they walk on indicators of assisted poverty and without actions of palpable changes.

Vivir en una ciudadela no es sinónimo de marginal, pero tiene altos componentes de marginación.
Living in a citadel is not synonymous with marginal, but it has high margining components.

This has also been the settlement space of a large mass of immigrants, who have rented, bought what cannot be “officially” sold and formed straight and homosexual couples, but which lies mostly illegally and without any control, a situation that has come to make the case worse. Nothing raised so far is a secret, but it is a great problem that is untreated and unvisitable, but easily palpable.

The current pandemic uncovered pandora’s box, putting the authorities on the disjunction to close the People’s Council or take step-by-step measures to allow for better control of the situation. Apparently the latter option has been determination, the total closure would create a real knot that far from helping, would further complicate the situation. Let us hope that in this way the epidemiological event will be overcome, but how to solve the social situation? Eye, there is a large mass of Cubans living on the edge in the heart of the city, if you do not act accordingly already, it may be that in a short time it is then too late and Centro Habana becomes the epicenter of social care in the capital of all Cubans.

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