Covid Year Notes (8)

By: José Antonio Michelena and Yarelis Rico Hernández

Ilustración: Ángel Alonso

We traveled through the eighth month of the year dealing with Covid-19. We would have wanted to live all this time in a capsule, in a hyperbaric chamber, in hibernation, and go outside only when it all happened. But so many things have happened in the global village in these seven months… And what is life without the experience of everyday life, of what happens and happens to us.

No matter how isolated we were, we couldn’t be without hearing the beating of the world, the multiple stories, from the origin and spread of the new coronavirus and the follow-up to the health crisis, to the social effects of an African-American suffocation by a cop in Minneapolis. Isn’t that quite one story?

On the island we have not been oblivious to the events outside, but also inside things have happened. And for everything there are criteria and positions that cause dissequents and shocks when intolerance emerges, the voices that scream louder because they want to be the only ones heard, the ones who believe themselves to be bearers of the truth.

Word New wanted to share the expressions of a group of diverse voices to offer to its readers as a sample of the personal and collective experiences that have been lived in this peculiar and amazing leap year, this twenty-twenty turned quarent(en)a.

We have asked these people to tell us about their experiences in these months, how their days have passed, how they have faced the challenges and what reading they make of what happened, what their ideas are about it.

Chuchú junto a familiares y amigos
Beautiful family photo

A stop along the way

By Maria C. López Campistrous

When I heard and read the news in early 2020, of the distant new coronavirus in Asian lands, I never imagined, I never foreseed that it could touch us, to touch the entire human race in this way. Ignorant was at that time so many things, no concrete idea I had of the “Spanish flu” of a century ago, and the most recent pandemics were sure that they had not touched us.

Like everyone else, or almost everyone else, had plans and projects for the year that was just beginning. As early as the end of February, after a short work trip to Ciego de Avila and sharing the return with a large group of French tourists, I even jaraneé that “my flu” was perhaps the dreaded Covid-19, which then I wanted only a simple cold.

March came differently: two of my children living in Europe confined to the escalation of a deadly disease, my mother visiting the United States self-confined and the first positive cases detected in Cuba. My whole perspective changed 180 degrees.

The closure came, came the fear, for mine that I felt so far and so helpless, for the own and others everywhere vulnerable alike. The pandemic was declared, and the fear of the first few days was great, I feared that mine would get sick, or the contagion possible and sicken others. At home was my son, the university had closed his doors prudently, my husband teleworked almost every day of the week and I worked at home, but also having to go out to work. My children too with great fear; Italy, France and Spain were very complicated and feared that the same could happen here.

Thus, with these anxieties, united in having to go out to work and “fight” what is necessary, began this time, each day longer, which has marked us all. It was not the first crisis I was facing, some strategies we had already learned thirty years earlier, experts in surviving with only the minimum necessary, for nothing is more precious and precious than life.

It scoures at what was shared and read in the networks, a search for truth behind the news that becomes increasingly difficult to elucide. Desire not to read, not to see, to hear nothing else; desire only to read “the cure has been discovered,” “the nightmare is over.”

Time for anxieties, but also growths and many fruits. At home we put in order many unfinished things to do and for which there is never time, my gentlemen worked hard: they painted, they fixed old backs, they changed rooms… my time in the kitchen was neither quick nor early, little knew in glory, and praise never was lacking; we went back to old jam recipes to take advantage of the mango saviors… time for my old men, very carefully, in the extreme, to be able to serve and help in whatever it took… the shelter house and temple were rediscovered in that protective dimension that we had almost forgotten. The news every day of “we are all well” coming from the children, my mother, my sisters, my friends everywhere and everywhere in Cuba and the world; or the Mother’s Day surprise “you’re going to be a grandmother!” filled me with hope.

But I am a communicator, I serve the Church from communication, and I could not stop. So with more time at home and with few distractions I achieved the goal that I wanted to give to the present and future readers of Church in March, our diocesan newsletter, which in the midst of the pandemic and isolation reached its thirty years of uninterrupted circulation: to digitize the entire collection, its 216 editions! Many hours of work, but of great joy, for to Church in March has been linked my life and service these thirty years, “remembering” the life of the archdiocesan and Cuban Church found on each page has been fascinating. In unique conditions, bring the relevant printed and digital editions forward, so that the word of the Church would not be lacking, to those who have no other bridge of communication.

Chuchú junto a su esposo y uno de sus tres hijos.
Chuchu with her husband and one of her three children.

Taking the work with social networks from the institutional was a challenge, from them we managed to be close to communities and followers, we managed to bring the Word to so many people who followed and follow our publications, we also managed to serve as a bridge of solidarity and Christian charity.

The Cuban TV broadcast of Sunday Mass and the archbishop’s weekly addresses us to important challenges. The local telecenter with very few resources assumed responsibility for the recording of the Eucharist, first time that it was done with total autonomy from Santiago de Cuba and adjusted, in addition, to a programming time of 27 minutes. The first two weeks were really very tense the work, both the Eucharist of Palm Sunday and that of Resurrection Sunday are very special liturgical celebrations, there were criticisms, some very harsh, but Msgr. Dionisio, our archbishop, without touching the most important thing of the Eucharist, went ahead for the greater good of thousands of people in Cuba and in many parts of the world (because it was also broadcast on the Youtube channel of the Parish of Copper) , to reach those who, due to the necessary isolation, were deprived of attendance at temples and chapels.

Thus, one team was consolidated every week, in which we all learned to understand each other’s work from the greatest camaraderie and respect. Today our Archdiocese has assumed as permanent both projects inserted to the radio programming of RCJ and the transmission of Sunday Mass from the camarín de la Virgen de la Caridad by the Youtube channel of the copper parish.

What’s my hope? I wish I could answer that question. In the first month of the pandemic, all caught Jesus Pope Francis said, before an imposing “empty” St. Peter’s Square, but with the eyes of millions of people in the world there, “‘Why are you afraid? Don’t you have faith yet?’ The beginning of faith is to know that we need salvation. We are not self-sufficient; we just sank.” Then I idyllically dreamed that, from this terrible experience, we would all come out changed, transformed into new people, who know, have learned that no one is saved alone, that we need one of the other today more than ever, that we need God.

I’m not that optimistic today. How much more will humanity have to suffer? Speeches, slogans, attacks by each other… a reality of economic crisis that brings us closer, but also to deep social and anthropological crisis that does not make us look at the other as the brother he is. Then I reach out, like Peter, “Lord save me, save us,” only He, only in Him do I hold myself, and choose to follow Him again.

And I would like to continue to bet on life, for the man and woman of my time, of all times, when at many less years I wrote these verses.


I feel like being water, being a river

fresh and still water, perhaps

water that clears and runs unstainable

rabidly free,

guessing uns open roads

nor plotted in advance.

Water to quench the thirst of the thirsty

or clean the imperfect from stains.

Water, and feeling boiled on the stones

hear them sing when in my wake

relieve them of the sun

that burns them hopelessly.

Being water, fresh water

humble stream

to water sown with joy

I just want to be water.

Santiago de Cuba, 12 August 2020



María Caridad López Campistrous
María Caridad López Campistrous

María Caridad López Campistrous (Ing. Telecommunications, 1988, ISJAM; Law Degree, 2000, University of the Orient; MSc Administración, 2018, St. Thomas University), married, mother of three, worked at the MINAZ Transport Company in Santiago de Cuba and the Heredia Theater. Since 1999, she has worked at the Archbishopric of Santiago de Cuba, of which she is currently its Director of Communication.

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