Wonderful Havana facing a new sanitary crisis
HAVANA, March 10 Without counting the main avenues of Havana, those through which the country’s highest authorities pass and probably for this reason they remain semi-immaculate,It could be said that it is almost impossible to walk on a city street that is moderately clean and generally in good condition.
In many corners of the city, the most populated in Cuba, mountains of waste grow uncontrollably on and out of the plastic garbage containers or what remains of them, and also overflowing the huge amphiboles distributed throughout the neighborhoods to collect the waste. waste.
If you want to get a more complete picture of what the city looks like, you should add to the panorama the potholes in the street, the irregularities in the sidewalks and embankments, the thousands of unpainted buildings or in poor construction condition and half-ruined walls or balconies. cracked, dozens of streets closed due to the work of some company and strong odors where the garbage is concentrated.
Of course, all of the above hurts anyone who has known Havana in its most splendor moments, taking into account that little by little the brilliance with which it celebrated its 500 years in the not-too-distant 2019 has faded.
Hygiene and health in the largest city of Cuba
If the city leaves much to be desired from an aesthetic point of view, the cost of everything described is even greater for the health of the capital’s residents and temporary visitors, including tourists, who do not always stay in hotels and who choose to walk around their streets, taking with them sad photographs that give an account of the state of the territory.
A Havana doctor frequently consulted by Cuba Noticias 360 for health issues, reminded this medium that during the past year, the country’s authorities issued more than one alert for the health situation on the island, with thousands of cases of dengue detected daily in several provinces, including Havana until it was present throughout the national territory.
The forms of the spread of this disease, transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, are well known to Cubans. This insect, also responsible for chikungunya, Zika and yellow fever, lives in places where water and puddles and leaks accumulate, in addition to unclean places that can easily attract it.
In September 2022, the Ministry of Public Health considered that the risk of becoming ill with dengue was high throughout the country. Havana was among the provinces with the highest incidence rate of suspected cases of the disease and also among those with the highest number of mosquito outbreaks.
For its part, the Cuban government stated on more than one occasion that dengue was the most complex hygienic-sanitary situation facing the country.
Similarly, the accumulation of waste facilitates the proliferation of other pests such as mice or cockroaches, and according to specialized media, the existence of these open-air dumps in inappropriate places facilitates the potential spread of diseases, in addition to the evident aesthetic and hygienic of the cities.
Given this, it should be noted that the increase in micro-dumps with urban waste in Havana is not a thing of a few months ago. In 2021, the authorities of the capital expressed concern about this, with Guanabacoa, Playa, Plaza de la Revolución, Arroyo Naranjo, Boyeros, 10 de Octubre and Centro Habana as the most affected municipalities.
Two years later, on social networks, there are many complaints from the public about this unhealthy situation and photographs in the form of denouncing it. Even famous Cuban comedians such as Telo González, Pipe, and Otto Ortiz “competed” to see in which of their neighborhoods there was the most accumulated garbage.
What about the investments and the trucks that must collect the garbage?
Since 2019, Havana has received at least 120 solid waste collection trucks, for which it has not had to pay. These are donations from Japan, Austria and other nations that, in the long run, cannot cope due to lack of fuel, breakages and lack of parts, among other factors.
Even more significant than the possible impact of the arrival of new trucks of this type, was the announcement in 2018 of a foreign investment of 700 million dollars for the integrated management of solid waste, which would begin in Havana and spread little by little. to Matanzas, Holguín, Villa Clara, Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey.
As far as is known, the Havana tender was closed and was in the process of approval by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and
In 2019, the Communal Services of the capital were reorganized with the creation of 15 companies (one for each municipality), to provide the territories with greater autonomy and management capacity, which would guarantee the effectiveness of solid waste collection, despite the lack of equipment and other problems were a brake on the initiative.
Beyond the teams, the responsibility of people also weighs heavily
It is easier to drop the crates full of garbage from the balconies or terraces of multi-family buildings to the common areas or to leave them in the corner than to carry them to the garbage cans, a sad behavior that many will have seen at least once and that adds to the problems of the government and the country to deal with waste.
No doubt anyone would want their home to stink from garbage or look dirty from crates of accumulated rubbish. Thinking then of the city as “the biggest house of all” could be an incentive for the problem that overwhelms the city.
Also striking is a kind of historical competition among Cubans to see which city was the cleanest. Towards the ans, but with so many Cubans “from all over” living in the largest city in the country, it would be unwise to say that it is a matter of Habaneros by birth, because tens of thousands of people from Camagüey, Santiago, Guantanamo and many others have arrived in that city, who generally recognize that their original province is cleaner.
At this point, and in light of the crisis that Cuba is experiencing, it is delusional to think that there is a magical answer “from now to now” to the problem of garbage in Havana and in other territories of the country.
Perhaps the solution begins with the little -but necessary- that everyone can do, with that little box that is sometimes left where it is not, or with those pieces of wood saved years ago that can wait in their place for a couple more days until the ampirol is emptied, instead of going to any corner of the “Wonder City” where more than two million Cubans live.