Monday, November 30, 2009

When It Rains in Cuba: Leaky Roofs, No Umbrellas

One might think that in a tropical country life is organized taking the climate into account, and that along with our light clothing we always have umbrellas and raincoats at hand. Not so. Leaking roofs are common, especially in the construction of the last fifty years; homes, offices, schools and hospitals, and even stores suffer repeated losses because of them. Collapses, now typical in the urban landscape, are not the result of bombardments of imperialism, rather they are caused by the difficulty of acquiring waterproof construction materials.

In foreign films we often see scenes of crowds in the rain. We are impressed by the image of a cloud of umbrellas that extends the length of a street or the full width of the stands in a stadium. We inevitably compare these scenes with the typical appearance of our streets during a cloudburst: nylon bags used as protection, trying to cover one’s head with the newspaper Granma or a piece of cardboard; older people waiting under the balconies or huddled together at a bus stop.

These are days to ask ourselves when we will have a raincoat – one without holes that fits – let alone what seems to be a pipe dream for so many, when the city will not collapse because of a simple shower that falls in the tropics.

~Yoani Sanchez


At 11/30/2009 9:08 PM, Anonymous Ian Random said...

Why don't they just acquire materials from the Cuban based building materials company, Escambray. I assume since medical care is free in Cuba, that building materials are. (slow until Venezuela lays the cable for a faster connection)

At 12/01/2009 10:09 AM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

The central planners seem to have succeeded in preserving the material trappings of the 1950's. They want to keep the cars, raincoats, umbrellas etc. in original condition -- no improvements planned for.

Ms. Sanchez is very brave and eloquent.

At 12/01/2009 10:46 AM, Blogger Richard Rider, Chair, San Diego Tax Fighters said...

Gosh, I'd love to hear from our Hollywood mavens who love Castro ET AL. Surely they can blame it all on the U.S. And never forget, our actor friends assure us that Cubans are happy with their lot in life.

BTW, I oppose our blockade on Cuba, as it gives Cuba an ill-fitting, one-size-fits-all excuse for their endless failures. Let the Cubans see what a bounteous (relatively) free market society provides for even the humble folk, compared with their tropical Workers Paradise. Let them try to buy our goods with nothing substantive to trade except their supposedly happy lot in life.

I always felt we could have destroyed the USSR decades earlier if somehow we could have gotten the Ruskies to shop once in even our most modest supermarkets.

At 12/01/2009 11:36 AM, Blogger QT said...


Do you honestly believe that the Cuban government would allow their people to have U.S. goods? This regime has no interest in demonstrating the power of the invisible hand over the iron glove.

Chances are pretty good that U.S. goods would merely go to the elite. Totalitarian socialism usually has 2 different classes...a privileged one and everyone else for whom "revolution or death" applies.


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