A Troubled River, a Win for Fishermen in Cienfuegos

This area of the Cienfuegos bay is heavily polluted by industrial waste and the sewage ditches from the closest neighborhood. (Facebook / Cienfuegos Encanta / Yoel de la Paz and Mercedes Caro)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 25 August 2020 — The southern coast of Cuba has been one of the areas most affected by the winds from Tropical Storm Laura, but not all of the effects have been bad news. Eager to get hold of food amid the shortage crisis, hundreds of residents of the city of Cienfuegos approached the sea to fish in the waters churned by the storm.

Images of adults, children and entire families trying to catch the fish that the storm surges pushed close to shore have been widely shared on social media. In the photos, some are seen trying to fish by hand, while others carry gadgets such as buckets, fan housings, and in a few cases small nets.

“Here people often fish or try to find the odd shrimp or oyster. This despite the fact that it is prohibited. The bay is very polluted in this area by industrial waste and by the sewage ditches in the neighborhood, which flow onto the beach “says Magalys Sosa, a resident of the La Reina neighborhood, one of the poorest in the city and bordering the bay.

“We were afraid that the sea would rise. They always ask us to evacuate in case a hurricane comes because these houses are on land stolen from the sea,” he added.

The community where Sosa lives is known as “the new houses.” It is a settlement built for the victims of Hurricane Lili, which hit Cienfuegos in 1996.

For Eloy, another neighbor in the area, “the neighborhood got hot.”

“People began to shout that there were fish on the shore and everyone went out with what they could to collect them. There are even those who sold minutes with those fish. With the hunger that exists, everything is for sale here,” he says.

Fish is one of the scarcest products in the daily diet of Cubans and, with the exception of small fishing villages where many carry out their work clandestinely and sell part of what they obtain from the sea in the informal market, most families of the Island only eat shellfish, fish or crustaceans very sporadically.


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