Daily Incongruities / Fernando Dámaso

Panorama and Tulipan streets near the 19th of April Policlinic in Havana’s Nuevo Vedado neighborhood.

Fenando Damaso, 1 June 2017 — To the annoyance of the citizens, the annual campaign against the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries Dengue fever and the Zika virus has begun anew, through weekly fumigations of homes. Undertaken year after year, it seems that the insect has been the winner since is has not been eradicated.

In 1900, the Cuban doctor Carlos J. Finlay and the American medical team presided over by Dr. Walter Reed succeeded in eliminating it and sanitized the country, declaring it free of yellow fever or black vomit, as it was known then.

To do this, ditches, streams, muddy places and wastelands were cleaned, and crude oil was spread on top of them to kill the larvae. They then sprayed infested and adjoining houses. The process of sanitation and control of the insect was maintained during the Republic and there were no new outbreaks.

The transmitting mosquito reappeared in the years of socialism, when “republican sanitation” was stopped and the city, which had been one of the cleanest in the world, became a veritable dump. Today it continues to be: garbage everywhere, sewage in the public thoroughfare.

When the nurse who distributed the papers with the day of the fumigation was asked why they don’t clean and fumigate the unhygienic places in the neighborhood, she replied: “The mosquito lives in clean places and not in dirty ones.”

Nice! Finlay and Reed are obsolete. The solution is to make the neighborhood and the city a real den of dirt, to force the mosquito to emigrate.

To the absurdity of the response is added starting this campaign at a time when the city lacks potable water, due to the rupture of the major line in the Southern Basin, with 70 years of unmanaged operation, and when the highest governmental authorities, instead of confronting and solving the serious problems of the present, are dedicated to rambling on about the future.

Like they say in the street, “This is Cuba, chaguito!”