The Mountains of Garbage Cause Distress Over the The State’s Inefficiency

In the neighborhood of Luyanó, residents scattered the garbage until it blocked the street; in other areas of Havana they have set fire to the mountains of trash

Blocking the passage of cars with the trash from the garbage dump on Reforma Street, corner of Rodríguez in Luyanó, has been a way to draw attention to the matter / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 9 April 2024 — A narrow path for motorcycles and bicycles was all that was left this Monday on Reforma Street, at the corner of Rodríguez in Luyanó, Havana. A neighbor, annoyed by the trash that had been accumulating there for weeks, spread it around until it created a barrier that prevented the access of vehicles, one of the many ways in which Cubans are protesting the collapse of the garbage collection system.

From the balconies, some encouraged the man to place branches, boxes and bags of waste to totally block traffic. “Do it, go on, let’s see if they’ll come now!” a woman shouted indignantly, adding: “This has never happened before in this neighborhood, not even in the worst times!” The exclamations of other people reinforced the situation of despair that has taken over the habaneros, who have been living amidst dirt and trash for months.

“The cars have to turn because when they approach the corner they realize they can’t get through,” says Adela, a neighbor who watched everything from the door of her house on the ground floor. “This is not against anyone in particular. There are people who live on this block and have not been able to get their cars out. Maybe they’ll listen to us and remove all that crap.”

Part of the garbage dump on the corner of Estancia and Conill, in Nuevo Vedado, Havana, was reduced to ashes / 14ymedio

A few meters from there, a day before, “they set fire to the garbage on Rodríguez and Villanueva Street,” a resident tells 14ymedio. The blue wall behind the hill of trash was scorched this Monday after the flames burned for a long time and reduced part of the trash to ashes, especially the dry leaves, pieces of wood and cardboard. “After a while the firefighters and even the police came, but the Communal Services Company never came to pick all this up. They asked if anyone saw who lit the match, but no one said anything. People are very pissed off, and even the most decent person may be the one who started the fire, because we are all desperate.”

In Nuevo Vedado, the garbage dump on Estancia and Conill Street also went up in flames on Saturday afternoon. In that same block, on the opposite corner, the hill of debris and trash that has not stopped growing for more than a year and a half was set on fire last January, although the Comunales company has made some sporadic attempts to eliminate it.

Among those who live nearby, the shared opinion is that neither of the two incidents was accidental. “Setting the garbage on fire is a way to attract attention,” says a neighbor of nearby Marino Street. “They only come to pick it up when a fire is reported; they arrive after the firefighters, if they arrive at all, but for sure they won’t come if nothing happens.”

Among those who live nearby, the shared opinion is that neither of the two incidents was accidental

In Holguín, this Sunday night the panorama was similar. When it got dark, a fire started in the garbage dump of the Villa Nueva 3 neighborhood, where mainly officers and members of the Ministry of the Interior reside. “My wife called the firefighters, and they told her that the fire was already reported. We could see five different points where it was burning,” says Luis, a resident in the area.

“The stench was the worst part, but people seemed almost happy, because they thought that now the problem would be solved,” he explains. The next morning, the huge garbage dump was still in place, blackened by the fire but intact in its smell and size.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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