Still on Base in Havana

Residents must show an identity card, with their official Havana address, or a temporary residence card to buy essential products.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, September 1, 2020 — Tuesday morning in Havana was marked by an unusual silence in the early hours, especially in neighborhoods near main thoroughfares like Rancho Boyeros. The decrease in vehicular traffic produced a dawn without the usual din of car engines and with cleaner air due to the drop in carbon dioxide emissions from vintage cars. But the mood was also more tense.

Until yesterday some still dared to meet friends at the park, go outside to escape the summer heat or throw away garbage after 6:00 p.m. in violation of regulations issued at the beginning of this year in the Cuban capital. Many had the sense that everything was “still on base,” as they say in the language of baseball.

On September 1 Havana woke to the most restrictive measures taken so far by the Government to contain the coronavirus pandemic. These include a curfew — from seven at night to five in the morning — and restrictions on travel between towns and cities during the day.

Residents must show an identity card, with their official Havana address, or a temporary residence card to buy essential goods at both peso and hard currency stores in the capital.

Children, seniors and persons with disabilities will not be able to go out in public at any time. All parties and meetings are prohibited.

The outdoors have become uncharted territory, a place where government officials have absolute power. Neighborhood groups made up of members of the Communist Party and Committees for the Defense of the Revolution can decide who should be fined, arrested or taken from their homes for posing an epidemiological threat.

“At the Coppelia ice cream parlor there was a lady in line with a shopping bag,” a neighborhood resident tells 14ymedio. “They were giving her a hard time. She looked like a decent person. The took away her away along with her bag and everything in it.”

Havana is taking its first steps on a new path. This time it is not pirates, marauders, or buccaneers we should most fear.


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