The (a)normal and the real

Por: José Antonio Michelena


The faces of the new normal

Three months after confirming the first cases of Covid-19, Cuba will begin to open up society to enter the so-called new normality, a compound term that is not at all pleasant, a reality that does not promise to be very different from the one we are living from the beginning of the pandemic.

In the past we have lived an unreleased experience that has varied our rhythms and ways of existence and our behaviors, especially in the public space, which has become an environment that we must face with suspicion and caution. Outside the home nothing is safe.

Never before has the sense of global village been so evident and notorious. We’ve lived on every news story that has to do with the virus, from drugs and therapies to crisis management by governments and states, and these have differed in how we do it, with greater or lesser fortune, with greater or lesser transparency (some without any transparency).

The crises caused by covid-19 are in the process. While the health situation in Asia and Oceania is under control, and in Europe the rate of contagion and deaths has slowed, in Africa the pandemic is boiling, and America continues with the worst global statistic, aided by the lousy management of several governments.

Without existing saving therapies or vaccines yet, SARS CoV 2 will continue with its undesirable trail until science stops it, but the world will be another, because it is already another. Just as HIV/AIDS, forty years ago, changed our behaviors towards sexual intercourse, this virus has changed our social relationships, our action in society, and has shown in an angry way the diverse faces of the human condition.

Of course, not everyone behaves the same in public space, of course not all of us do the same reading of the phrase “perception of risk”; while some take responsibility, others do not even repair it, or attach the slightest importance to it.

Terms such as physical estating also suffer the adaptation that each individual makes, and not what to say about the word solidarity, so named in recent months. On a practical level, on a social scale, everything is weathe and forms a complex, convoluted reality that overflows with schemes and labels, call it nation or country.

For ninety days Cubans (or a good part) have started the day pending the information it offers, at 9:00 a.m., the Ministry of Public Health, on the current coronavirus. While the midday and evening news have increased their audience significantly for the same news reason. I have written in another text that we have risen and slept every day with the shadow of the coronavirus next to us.

And while it has been a feasible time to be alone with ourselves and with our family; to make balance sheets, introspections, existential assessments, intellectual work, readings… Not everyone has been able to live it like this.

In a city like Havana, with more than two million inhabitants, where several hundred thousand live in homes where several generations live, with shared bedrooms, in small spaces, this prolonged confinement should not have been easy. Under these conditions, coexisting is already a challenge.

There is, on the other hand, the need for food. Because since before we even entered phase 1 of the coronavirus already the island was in food crisis. The queues to buy detergent and chicken didn’t arrive with the virus or 2020. But this time has boosted them.

Cuba en tiempos de Covid-19
Cuba en tiempos de Covid-19

We have seen in these months a resurgence of ponytails and ponytails; resellers; merchants, speculators, traffickers, usurers of products and everything sellable, tradable, traffickable; people who are within the needs of others.

In opposition, counteracting these evils, there have been those who have been supportive and have helped the most vulnerable, with fewer resources to take to the streets and fight in the queues, or accompanied them in their fragile condition. They have been people faithful to the spirit of good, to the best of the human being.

But to say that the former are a minority and the latter predominate is a comfort of fools, because even if they were, that first group is so damaging and disturbing that this supposed minority is enough to hinder the exercise of order, discipline and good customs in the city.

How we’re going to deal with that reality from now on, we don’t know. Because the queues are going to continue, our needs continue to grow, and the margins and gaps where the disorder operates are open.

With reduced collective transport and a declining supply of goods, goods and services, the new normal does not provide a very encouraging picture.

In the meantime, we will continue to wear masks and practice physical estification, with suspicion and fear of the other on public roads, or in any space outside the home, and our social nature will continue to atrophy in this dystopian reality, nothing normal.

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