Thursday, July 13, 2017

Cuban Government Fires Off One Lie After Another

Cuban Government Fires Off One Lie After Another / Iván García

Ivan Garcia, 3 July 2017 — The fan stopped turning around 3:30 in the
morning, when in the middle of a heat wave, a black out forced Ricardo,
his wife and their two children to sleep on a mat on the balcony of
their apartment in the Lawton neighborhood, a thirty minute drive from
central Havana.

Several areas were left dark and lit only by candles and lanterns,
dozens of neighbors complained with rude words and sharp criticisms of
of the poor performance of state electricity and water companies.

The blackout lasted for seven hours. "I couldn't iron my children's
school uniforms and they are in the midst of final exams. I sent them to
school in street clothes. Nor could my husband and I go to work. When I
the light came on, after ten in the morning, we lay in bed for a while.
The situation is already so bad no one can stand it. It's one problem
after another. The water crisis, which is still affecting us, public
transportation is the worst, food prices don't stop rising and now this
black out in the middle of this terrible heat," says Zoraida, Ricardo's

Almost a month after a break in one of the main pipes that brings
potable water to Havana, and then an intense information campaign on the
part of the office press, filled with justifications and an exaggerated
optimism, where radio, TV and newspapers report the hours there will be
water in each neighborhood, after the repairs, completed two weeks ago,
and with the promise that service would gradually return to normal in
the different zones of the capital, they are still suffering the affects
and the media doesn't offer any explanations.

"Some 200,000 people are still affected and are receiving water every
three days. By Thursday, June 22, it was expected to regularize the
service, but some problems have arisen," said an official of Aguas de La
Habana in the municipality Diez de Octubre, the most populated of the
capital's districts.

The affected Havanans don't stop complaining. "In my house, the tank
that we have on the roof does not have the capacity for the water to
last three days. Although we try to save it, in the bathroom, kitchen
and laundry, the water that we are able to collect is spent in two
days. The government comes up with one lie after another. First it was
reported that the break was a matter of a week, at most two. And we're
going on for a month now. Instead of responding with so much noise to
Trump's measures, they should focus on improving the living conditions
of Cubans," complains Mario, a resident of Luyanó, a working-class
neighborhood in the south of the city.

Rumors about the resurgence of the perennial economic crisis that Cubans
are experiencing, spread throughout the city. "I have it on good
authority, from a friend of my brother who is in the party, I know that
by summer the government is going to make new cuts in companies' fuel
consumption, and they will close unproductive factories and industries
until further notice. The scarcity is noticeable. The state farm
markets are empty and the shortages in the hard currency stores are
obvious. It is said that in the upcoming session of the National
Assembly of People's Power, on July 14, they are going to announce new
measures of cuts. Thing looks ugly," says Miriam, housewife, at the
entrance to a bodega in Cerro municipality.

Diario Las Américas could not verify those comments and rumors.

A banking official who prefers anonymity believes that the country's
financial situation is "quite delicate." He says, "There is not enough
currency liquidity. Even payments of the various debts contracted with
foreign companies are not being made. Tourism, which contributes about
$3 billion in revenue, devours almost 60 percent of that revenue in the
purchase of inputs. Remittances are the lifeline, but with shortages in
foreign exchange stores and high prices, many people are spending their
convertible pesos on the black market or in the parallel trade of the
'mules' that bring products from abroad. A large part of that money is
not being returned to the state coffers, as people involved in these
activities either save it or use it as an investment in their business."

To minimize reality, the olive-green autocracy uses anti-imperialist
discourse and condemnations of Donald Trump's new policy of restrictions
as a smokescreen.

"That narrative has always worked. But people on the street know that
this discourse is exhausted. They can't justify all the national
wreckage and the poor performance of the public services with the
economic blockade of the United States nor with the recent aggressive
policy of Trump. Cubans are at their limit with everything. It is not
advisable to think that Cubans will always be silent. Situations such as
blackouts and cuts in the water supply make people angry and their
reactions could be unpredictable," warns a sociologist.

With finances in the red, an economic recession that threatens to turn
into a crisis of incalculable consequences, and grandiose development
plans that sound like science fiction to ordinary Cubans, the
authorities are facing a dangerous precipice.

Six decades of selling illusions and with unfulfilled promises are
already coming to an end. And it could be less than happy.

Source: Cuban Government Fires Off One Lie After Another / Iván García –
Translating Cuba -

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