While Cubans Suffer from Floods, Authorities Speak of ‘Revolutionary Surveillance’

Senior civil and military officials meet in Havana to prepare “the war of all the people”

Neighbors have been busy cleaning the mountains of garbage that invade their streets after the floods / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 24 June 2024 — The threat of another rainy day looms over the Cuban capital this Monday. Only the Eastern side of the Island is breathing with some relief, since at 3 in the morning the Meteorological Institute announced that this Monday will be “cloudy in a large part of the country, with some showers, rains and thunderstorms from late morning in the western half. In the afternoon, rainfall will spread to the rest of the national territory, becoming copious in the west and center. The rains can be heavy in some locations.”

It will rain over already wet surfaces, literally. In Havana the weekend has been devastating for the hundreds of people who have lived staring at the ceiling, hoping it wouldn’t fall on them, as has happened to about twenty families who have partially or totally lost their homes due to rainfall in recent days. The highest point of the situation occurred on Saturday, when, in just three hours, between 2 and 3 in the afternoon, 56 millimeters (2.2 inches) of water accumulated at Casablanca Station in Havana.

The most affected municipalities were Diez de Octubre, Old Havana, Centro HabanaBoyeros and Plaza de la Revolución, where residents were busy cleaning the mountains of garbage that invaded their streets and that, carried by the water, prevented drainage through sewers, causing water accumulation. Mosquitoes, happy in the humidity, were added to the waste, spreading arboviruses to the fearing population, who did not give up in their efforts to unclog the streets despite the authorities asking them for “prudence and discipline.”

Liván Izquierdo Alonso asked for caution and called for “common sense and for the people to be disciplined and not cross flooded streets”

“Multiple images were posted on social networks, essentially in the profiles of Havana residents on Facebook and X (previously known as Twitter), where the population can be seen in the streets, in waters above their waists, just like cars whose tires cannot be seen because they remain under the precipitated water,” said Tribuna de La Habana.

Liván Izquierdo Alonso, First Secretary of the Communist Party in the province, asked for caution and called for “sanity, and for the people to be disciplined and not cross flooded streets with the clear presence of downed cables.” His agenda that day, while the population entered the waters to clean up the disaster, had consisted of supervising the Territorial Defense Day in the municipality of Plaza de la Revolución, together with his deputy, Yanet Hernández Pérez, who is also Havana’s governor.

On the front lines, Major General Ernest Feijóo Eiró, head of the Western Army, called for “maintaining daily production and services, internal order: revolutionary surveillance in the neighborhood’s labor groups, all as an indispensable part of all the people’s war”.

The three, along with other military personnel, carried out the day’s program as if nothing else was going on. The official press describes a tour in which “places that have the essential potential to guarantee food for the population in circumstances determined by defense against an enemy attack were visited.” They also went to the April 19th polyclinic to “verify health professionals’ preparation to care for citizens who were injured by an enemy attack in the territory.” Not a word, however, about whether the necessary means are available for this. They also went to a school and the polygon “in which they witnessed a demonstration of skills for direct confrontation with those who try to invade this territory.”

The Havana authorities carried out the day’s program as if nothing was happening / Tribuna de La Habana

Feijóo Eiró spoke with the president of the Municipal Defense Council, Rolandis Rogríguez González, about the importance of “taking advantage of the reserves of experience in officers who are retired and have the necessary qualities,” while Izquierdo Alonso was interested in the “potential of a local organopónico”* and about crops, and spoke with authority about how to produce to feed the population.  In addition, he said that “the functions of the different government structures must be preserved, permanently, every day, in coordination with the Defense Zones. This is where the concept of war of the entire people lies,” he stressed.

The surreal scene, recorded by the official press with as much detail and urgency as was lacking when talking about the building collapses, was answered with a more than premonitory comment. “It would be necessary for Defense Day to also be allocated to the collection of solid waste in the streets. The corner of Oquendo and Salud in Centro Habana has not collected the garbage for more than a week, it is impossible to live with the flies, mosquitoes and stench inside homes, even with everything closed,” warned a woman who identified herself as Karen Boffill, an affected neighbor.

Barely an hour later the strong storm began, which aggravated the situation of the previous days, and the unrest of Havana residents was visible on the networks due to the lack of opportunity of some authorities, who seemed more distracted in the “strategic conception defined by the Commander in Chief Fidel as All the People’s War” than in the rain and its consequences. “They have people wasting their time with a supposed war. War is what they have against the miserable people, and it’s now that rice for the month of June’s miserable ration book is arriving. Don’t fool people anymore and get to work, because that’s where they’re spending all your money”, said a resident of La Lisa.

“They’re still doing it. What war? We have the war right here, inside. Enough already about war. What needs to be done is start producing the land, planting sugar cane, which is what makes money”, another one cried. “The military is the one who has to prepare,” continued one user. They have to guarantee citizens security: from an attack from outside and the assurance of peace for the citizens. “They should do that, and not keep appropriating hotels and chain stores.”

Not a single word came from Cuba’s Presidency to those affected by the rains. This weekend, Miguel Díaz-Canel left two messages on X, one this Sunday, congratulating Cuban women engineers and another that same Saturday, to instruct the population of Unión de Reyes, Matanzas, where he was on an official tour, to work with the spirit of commitment to move forward.

Popular superstition has linked Díaz-Canel, since the beginning of his mandate, with bad luck. His arrival was preceded by the partial collapse, on Friday night, of a home on General Betancourt de Alacranes Street, in Unión de Reyes. A few hours later, another building fell on the other side of Matanzas, in Colón. Nothing strange for a province in which only the Varadero tourist resort is free of ruins. None of this appeared in the official press.

*Translator’s note: Organopónicos or organoponics Cuban-originated system of urban agriculture using organic gardens.

Translated by Norma Whiting


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