Residents Block a Street in Central Havana After 35 Days Without Water

“Many families with small children live here, and we haven’t had water for 35 days,” a 40-year-old woman told 14ymedio (Facebook)

14ymedio, Nelson García, Havana, 24 September 2023 — An improvised barricade erected by the neighbors of Dragones Street, between Rayo and San Nicolás in Central Havana, has forced the authorities this Sunday to move a water truck to the neighborhood suffering from the lack of water. The barricade, made with buckets, plastic tanks and other household goods, prevented the passage of vehicles and police patrols for hours.

“Many families with small children live here, and we haven’t had water for 35 days,” a 40-year-old woman, mother of two children, four- and six-years-old, who prefers anonymity for fear of reprisals, told 14ymedio. “We are forced to ask other nearby neighbors for water, because in these houses we haven’t seen a drop in weeks.”

“They didn’t even bring us a water truck,” the woman complains. “It all started with the people in the shelter,” she explains, alluding to a place on the block inhabited by numerous families who have been relocated to that property after losing their homes due to a building collapse. “That’s where everything started to heat up.”

The residents of the shelter began to close the street early in the day with the containers, buckets and tanks that they use to store water. “The police themselves tried to pass and couldn’t; they had to turn back,” adds another local neighbor. “Shortly after, people from the municipal government appeared, although people had gone there more than ten times to complain about the lack of water. As soon as they saw the protest, they appeared.”

“When we went to complain, they told us that there was no fuel to send us a water truck, all an excuse,” he says. “You don’t have to have any illusions,” adds this neighbor. “They have not restored the water through the normal routes.” People didn’t settle and “asked for the service to be fixed by any method, because the water trucks don’t solve the problem.” The tension escalated and although “no one was arrested,” this resident explains that “things got very hot.”

Health problems also worsened in recent months in Havana due to the disastrous drop in the frequency of garbage collection. (14ymedio)

In addition to the problems with the water, the Communal Company has not collected the garbage for weeks. A huge mountain of rubbish grows every day on the same corner of Rayo and Dragones. “They are putting fines of thousands of pesos on people who throw garbage here, but when we call Comunales to come pick it up they say they don’t have fuel.”

“There are many problems throughout this neighborhood with water. A few days ago other residents on Rayo, on this same street but higher up, also protested the problems of water and garbage,” explains Juana, a retiree who this Sunday calculated with her eyes how far the mountain of waste that threatens to cover her door could go, speaking to this newspaper.

“There have been several cases of diseases that must be related to all this filth,” she says and points out the heap of rubbish. In a nearby house, residents have improvised a sign on the facade saying “this is a house” and imploring people not to continue burying their entrance with waste.

Health problems have worsened in recent months in Havana due to the disastrous combination of a drop in the frequency of garbage collection and serious problems in the water supply, according to the woman. “Dengue fever and Zika are the order of the day,” she says, referring to two serious mosquito borne diseases.

The Aguas de La Habana Company has recognized the poor situation of supply services throughout the capital, more serious in areas such as Cerro, Plaza de la Revolución, Diez de Octubre, Centro Habana and Old Havana.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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