Life Gets More Difficult Every Day in the Cuban Capital

Centro Habana is considered the smallest municipality in the capital but the most densely populated. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 5 March 2021 — The streets of Centro Habana, one of the municipalities of the Cuban capital with the most covid-19 infections, record the desolation that reigns in many corners of the island.

Proof of this desolation is in this image – taken today by a photographer from 14ymedio – of a retiree rummaging through a garbage container looking for who knows what, like so many others. The elderly used to collect glass bottles or beer cans to sell to the Raw Materials Recovery Company. But this business, which made it possible to supplement miserable pensions a bit, has shrunk substantially with the widespread shortage.

Since the pandemic arrived, according to official data, the municipality has accumulated more than 2,300 cases positive for the disease. In its neighborhoods, yellow tapes constantly appear that mark off the residential areas to indicate that they are in mandatory quarantine, and one of its most important neighborhoods, Los Sitio, has been partially closed for two weeks.

This Friday, however, a tour by a team from this newspaper documented that despite the rise in infections in Centro Habana, life does not stop: you can find, as usual, all kinds of products on the black market and a lot of residents moving around trying to get something to put on the table.

The latest daily report from the Ministry of Public Health reports 777 new cases of Covid-19 in the country for a cumulative total of 54,085 cases since the disease arrived in March 2020. In Havana alone there were 333 positives, 26 of them from Centro Habana.

This area is among those selected to distribute Nasalferon, an immunoprotectant derived from interferon. Since dawn on Thursday, “22,000 vials of the immunoprotective agent have been distributed for those in home isolation, to which another 1,500 are added for isolation centers,” the official press reported.

To prevent the product from ending up being resold on the black market, the authorities have established the requirement that contacts of positive cases who receive the drug “will be obliged to return the empty bottle as proof that there were no deviations,” a measure that further complicates the work of the brigades that patrol the quarantined neighborhoods.

In the Plaza de Carlos III, which was recently closed due to a Covid-19 outbreak, the lines don’t get any shorter. This Friday, the foreign exchange store located inside the shopping center stocked flat screen televisions, washing machines and sets of bathroom fixtures, which resulted in a long line from the early hours of the morning.

The most popular agricultural market in the municipality, located on the central San Rafael street, can now only be accessed through a narrow corridor surrounded by quarantine tapes, due to an outbreak of Covid-19 in the surrounding area. The bad news is that in the immediate vicinity of this private seller area is one of the most dynamic areas of the informal market in Centro Habana.

“Here there was everything, things no longer found anywhere: powdered milk, eggs, sweet and salty cookies and even shampoo, but now there are only police and people watching,” an area resident warns this newspaper. “This is dead because the food market was the least of it, here the most important thing happened outside.”


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