Thursday April 27, 2017
Fourteen families that were re-grouped in in shelters due to the 1996 Lili and 2002 Isidore cyclones still live in the Río Seco community of La Nilda, 16 kilometers from the highway to San Juan an Martínez in Pinar del Río,. This place previously was a military unit of the Ejército Juvenil del Trabajo (Labor Youth Army), and in the year 1994 it was transferred to a Batallón de Fuerza de Trabajo (Work Force Battalion) until in 1995 it was turned into a warehouse. In the year 2002, because of the cyclones it turned into a permanent shelter for 30 affected families from Santa Damián, Forteza and Río Seco, very low-income families who had no means of their own to re-build their homes.
A month into being sheltered, then-Vice President of the Consejo de Estado y de Ministros (Council of State and Ministers) Carlos Laje Dávila arrived at the place, along with former province Party First Secretary and other Government and Communist Party officials. Laje told the neighbors: “I commit myself to providing you with houses very soon.” Very hopefully, they all waited for an immediate answer to solve the difficult situation they were in, since many had lost their home and belongings. At first, grassroots organizations delivered food, and they were daily visited by a family doctor. Then-Delegate Sergio Carrelegue frequently visited them, and in assemblies he would state that the promise would be fulfilled, that they had to be patient and wait. Some months later, the attention and the promises disappeared.
After all those theatricals, a government commission would arrive annually but would solve nothing, delegates and leaders would visit the place and make the same promises. After some years, the roofs of the makeshift houses began deteriorating and Sergio Carrelegua’s solution was to have the toilets’ roofs removed and have them placed on the affected houses, leaving the toilets with no roof.
Sandra Haces shows a toilet with no roof or anything else
Fourteen years later, 16 families are left surviving adverse weather conditions, difficulties, dissatisfactions, shortages, exposure to cold, with no sanitation facilities, with no drinking water, surrounded by insects and rodents. Many of them suffer from cancer, there is a 27-year old who i son terminal phase, a woman with an amputated breast, two physically impaired persons; eight have died waiting for their problems to be solved. The families that have suffered 15 year of neglect and lies by the government continue to live in dire conditions.
It is not fair the those who wield power and claim to be the people’s representatives live in enormous, luxury houses when a large number of Cuban families live in semi-destroyed houses and in truly deplorable conditions.
By La Nilda CID delegate Arelis Rodríguez Silva and Sandra Haces Ramos, People’s Defenders.