Lack of Water is Triggering Unrest Among the People of San Antonio de Cabezas / 14ymedio

Residents in the town of San Antonio de Cabezas, in Matanzas. (Internet)
Residents in the town of San Antonio de Cabezas, in Matanzas. (Internet)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, San Antonio de Cabezas, Matanzas, 12 June 2016 — A few hours after celebrating 194 years since the founding of the town of San Antonio de Cabezas, its inhabitants marked two weeks without a water supply. The turbine that caters to this community, located in the Matanza town of Union de Reyes, suffered a break in late May and has not yet been repaired. The Institute of Hydraulic Resources in the province installed new pumping equipment but it was damaged by the ineptitude of the operators, local people complained.

The lack of water continues in the region where it is estimated that about 7,000 people live. The manifestations of popular discontent have risen in he town, before the local authorities’ prohibition on the residents organizing themselves to pay for water trucks. The price of truck ranges from 180 to 250 Cuban pesos.

Last week a command post began operating, led by the secretary of the Municipal Party and staffed by officers of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR). The group is focused on monitoring popular unrest and tackling the “social indiscipline” associated with the search for and the transport of the precious liquid.

The nearest source of supply, located near the La Lima sugar workers town, about two and a half miles from the town center, has benefited from the rains of recent days that have nurtured the rich groundwater that characterizes the area, close to the Santa Barbara and Garabato rivers. However, the transfer of water is complicated by the problems of acquiring fuel for the vehicles.

The town also has a large elevated water tank and a turbine that runs on oil, dedicated to exceptional situations such as hurricanes, storms or electrical outages. However, local authorities still have not received the order from the central government to interpret the current crisis as an emergency.

Several people have told this newspaper that they feel deceived and that their complaints “fall on deaf ears.” A citizen said she made a call to the offices of the municipal Party demanding an explanation and the official who took the call exhorted her to go and “bathe in the river.”

This Monday, 13 June, to mark the anniversary of the founding of the town, the Catholic Church will carry am image of its patron saint, San Antonio, through the town. The town’s elders say that in previous years there have frequently been downpours during the popular procession, an opportunity the residents are awaiting to get the water that for weeks hasn’t come through the pipes.

In the middle of last year it was unveiled at the sessions of the National Assembly of People’s Power that currently leaks and failures are resulting in the loss of close to 50% of the water pumped nationwide. A situation exacerbated because Cuba is experiencing its most severe drought in 115 years.