The Scene of the Disaster

The place where the plane crashed on 18 May 2018 (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 18 May 2019 — Charred tree trunks and an abandoned hut is the landscape that marks the site where, a year ago, 112 people lost their lives as a result of the fall of flight DMJ-972, on its way to the province of Holguín.

“Once again life can be born when in dreams and fire we were surprised by death…” reads one of the walls. Just below, the remains of what seems to have been a floral offering, and all around a disturbing silence that is only interrupted by the fearsome roar of another plane that has just taken off from the nearby airport.

To get here I followed the instructions of a private taxi driver took the family of one of the deceased to the place: “If you go on the P12 bus to Santiago de las Vegas, you will get off at Eduardo Garcia high school (two stops before the Mulgoba station.) Walk about 300 meters to where there is a fork and turn left where the Civil Aviation Services company (Servac) is. When you get to the train line, turn left and walk along it and there, at about 30 meters, you will see everything.”

A very high, burnt out coconut tree is the first thing you see when you get to the place. (14ymedio)

A very high burnt out coconut tree is the first thing you notice. Between the train line and the ground where the impact occurred there is a ditch. A singed bottle of sunscreen suggests that they did not pick up everything. It is the same scene from those dramatic videos uploaded to social networks. I close my eyes and can see a stretcher carried by four men with a green sheet covering a body with the leg hanging down, as in Huidobro’s verse: “…hypnotizes reality like the wheel that keeps turning after the catastrophe.”

The few neighbors do not want to comment. “This was filled with journalists and everyone asked the same thing,” says a woman who is taking her granddaughter to school. “The truth is, I do not even want to remember, I think about the dead and the crying of their relatives, nobody is prepared for that.”

On my way back, I talk to an employee of the Servac Company. In order not to look like a journalist, and to start the conversation, I ask him if there are any positions open for custodians and the man responds. “Do you remember the plane that fell a year ago? Well, look, since then they have already kicked out about a hundred people. And not because they were to blame for something, but because there were no more flights so they didn’t need their work… How would there be jobs?!”


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