Santiago de Cuba: Prognosis Guarded / Regina Coyula

Santiago de Cuba suffered a heart attack last year. The family conceals her dark circles, puts on makeup, and dyes her hair, but can’t control her chronic hypertension. All this to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the assault on the Moncada Barracks.

With the characteristic superstition of the materialists in government, the celebration of this fixed date should be held in the “cradle of the Revolution.” In Santiago the public lighting was replaced with sodium vapor lamps; the major parks were refurbished with lighting, benches, and plants; the Heredia theater underwent a renovation for the cultural gala to be held on the eve of the political event; Antonio Maceo Square received an extensive engineering repair that included the underground area.

The television station reopened its studio. Of course Saturnino Lora Hospital, the Palace of Justice, and the barracks, all involved in the events of July 26, 1953, received benefits; also the little Siboney farm and the Venus Hotel, the latter included in the homeland tour.

Abel Santamaría Park, judging by the pictures, was rescued from significant deterioration. According to a worker in charge, 400 inactive pumps were unclogged and restored in the cube-shaped fountain, the park’s landmark. The places related to the assault 60 years ago are now spotless. I wish I could say the same about the housing stock.

It doesn’t matter that they’ve raced to restripe the major streets, or planted many trees overnight. The scars that were left after Hurricane Sandy buffeted the battered housing stock overlie the pre-existing ischemia. The patient’s symptoms point out the precariousness of the Santiago population.

In the midst of the the economic update that simply does not show tangible results for the average citizen, Santiagans find that Daddy State not only gives insufficient help as before, but has no ability to respond to the urgent needs of the victims. Some materials are subsidized staples, but most have to be purchased at market price. A family that lost its home can only hope for credit and assistance to build a home with a kitchen and bath, no matter how many family members there are.

Although the commemorations have lost their massive character to be required activities with seating and entry activities as listed, the cost of such an act is not negligible: foreign guests protocol houses, hotels, houses transit agencies, military and transport aircraft executive squadron numerous inputs and then moving back and forth from the leaders and guests, electricity, amplification equipment, personal security devices and counterintelligence, artists and technicians who will take part in the gala preview, press, billboards, banners and billboards that adorn the avenues to the palm-leaf hats and sweaters, but the fuel to run all this gear and other items that escape me.

The Santiagans would have preferred a tribute to the fallen and the city itself was allocated the amount of all these resources to restore the heart rhythm of a city, whose symptoms allowed diagnosing the cardiovascular accident caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Raul Castro has missed a great opportunity to achieve political gain without seeming to.

Regina Coyula | La Habana

From Diario de Cuba

24 July 2013