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The Rain Didn’t “Rain on the Parade”

The Rain Didn’t “Rain on the Parade” / 14ymedio, Eliecer Avila
Posted on May 2, 2015

14ymedio, Eliecer Avila, Havana, 1 May 2015 – Right now in the City of
Havana, especially in the neighborhoods, families and individuals with
fewer economic possibilities are living through hard times. Downpours,
normal enough in many capitals in the world, take on a different
character here.

A few days ago many were clamoring for a few drops of water to
ameliorate the unbearable heat. But when you live with the danger of the
roof falling in on you, desires are confused and you end up preferring
to sweat.

I know exactly what it means to sleep with fear. I spent my childhood,
teenage years, and early adulthood sleeping in a bed-hammock with my
grandmother and my first cousin. At the least downpour, the power went
out and with the boards creaking, the house moved as if dancing with the

Mima went down on her knees on the ground and began to pray, which made
Carlitos and me more nervous. The gaps in the thatched roof let all the
water through and we had to seek out each drip with a candle and put
pots, jugs, cups and whatever receptacle we had to protect the little
display cabinet, the Caribe television and the mattress.

The worst of it was that not only water fell from the roof. Scorpions,
spiders, cockroaches and ants, feeling threatened by the thunder and
rain, slipped out of the walls, rushed under the doors or fell on our
chests as we were trying to get back to sleep.

At five in the morning, after a sleepless night, Mima would try to light
some damp coconut shells to brew coffee over a wood fire, whose ashes we
used on our toothbrushes many times instead of toothpaste, which was a
luxury at one time…

How many grandmothers watch over their sleeping grandchildren while it
rains, trying to hold up the walls with their faith

Under these conditions, Mima raised us two grandsons, having also raised
as good people our parents, working like a mule, although ill, for 110
Cuban pesos (roughly US$5.50) a month. No one is going to convince me
today that my grandmother is not a true heroine.

Today she continues to live under these conditions, after a lifetime
devoted to family, work and the Revolution. After a year of efforts at
every level at the Ministry of Agriculture to approve the paperwork that
would allow us to start building a small room on the ground where she
has been living for more than 60 years, through her own efforts, we
carried on without authorization. And they say that delay…

I think of my grandmother when I hear the news of building collapses in
Havana. How many like her will watch over their sleeping grandchildren
while trying to hold up the walls with their faith.

While floods ravage Havana, those directly responsible for the misery
that prevents so many families from repairing their houses; the creators
of a system that slowly demolishes every trace of beauty, comfort and
dignity, it doesn’t even occur to them to appear on TV lamenting the
loss of three Cuban lives that are added to so many others. On the
contrary, with their harangues, and the excitement of the celebration,
they show their lack of respect for the pain of the families who are
mourning today.

The official press barely mentions the names of the deceased, as if they
were potatoes, at the end of the newscast. In all honesty, they dedicate
more broadcast time to potatoes.

Nothing can tarnish the brilliance of the parade, one old woman more or
less. What matters is that the world sees Cubans making fools of
themselves disguised as a victory that breaks all the Guinness Records
for the absurd.

The State announced that it was calling into service more than 3,200
buses for the parade, including 78 damaged by the rains that were
repaired in one day for the occasion. It seems that not a single
journalist in Cuban has investigated the costs of these events and of
how much progress could be made in repairing homes and building
infrastructure with those resources.

Surely those interested in organizing the May Day celebrations don’t
have to worry about their families, their homes, or many other things
missing from our national daily life that have already been forgotten as
the decades pass.

I just hope that this time, the General didn’t ask for the earth to tremble.

Source: The Rain Didn’t “Rain on the Parade” / 14ymedio, Eliecer Avila |
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