The water does not come to Santiago de Cuba
The water does not come to Santiago de Cuba / 14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta
Posted on May 11, 2015
14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada, Santiago de Cuba, 9 May 2015 – The
drought has become an undesirable comrade for the residents of Santiago
de Cuba. For years, the city has suffered low rainfall, deficiencies in
the water supply system, and an erratic distribution policy.
In the midst of the celebrations for the fifth centenary of the city’s
founding, the contents of a water truck cost the equivalent of ten
convertible pesos on the black market, almost half the average monthly
salary. The families who can’t pay it have to be satisfied with storing
in tanks and buckets the trickle that comes out of the taps once or
twice a month.
In recent months, the water supply situation has become more drastic,
and although the rains flooded a part of the center and west of the
country, they have not made it to the east. The residents of Santiago’s
slums and neighborhood look to the sky in hopes of a downpour that will
fill the reservoirs and improve the situation of agriculture.
Dayana Despaigne, mother of two, uses the water given to her by some
neighbors with more resources, to clean, wash and do the cooking. She
says she doesn’t have the money “to buy the water,” so she hopes for the
generosity of others or of the “the workers on the aqueduct” supplying
the neighborhood where she lives.
Not far from Dayana’s house is the Chicharrones neighborhood, where
Luisa Hernandez said that “almost a month has gone by with no water
coming to the block, and this is not only the fault of the drought.” The
lady complains of the lack of organization and a regular supply schedule
and says that “they have forgotten to open the aqueduct when it touches
us,” referring to the taps that allow the water to flow to different
areas of the city.
The situation extends to the area known as Venceremos, where the water
comes every 15 days. On this occasion, according to comments from Juana
Milagros Bonne, “They passed us up, because it’s been more than
twenty-five days without a drop and it seems that for now it won’t come
our way, because we have been informed that there is a break and that
the cistern that supplies us is empty.”
The water trucks, commonly known as “pipes,” should help to ease the
situation when the water doesn’t come through the actual water pipes.
However, much of their cargo ends up diverted to the black market, where
there is a growing demand due to need.
A resident of Altamira commented to 14ymedio that on several occasions
they have bought water from the trucks because “the cycle is very long
and my tank supplies several family houses.” But he considers “ten
convertible pesos to be a lot of money,” and “in the neighborhood we’ve
never seen the supply trucks sent by the government to supply water to
The problem is not just that the water doesn’t fall from the sky, but
how much is lost through leaks and breaks. A worker on the aqueduct
revealed to this newspaper that “the meters that measure the water are
in poor condition in many houses, which negatively affects the wasting
of water.” The employee also recognizes that “the company does not have
the necessary means to repair the networks in the short term.”
Just two years ago, Raul Castro made a speech at the 26th of July
celebration in the Santiago capital where he set as a goal repairing the
water system throughout the city. Today, many families in the area give
up a good part of their wages to pay for the water trucks or the water
carriers who sell buckets and bottles. Water days don’t seem to arrive
for Santiago de Cuba.
Source: The water does not come to Santiago de Cuba / 14ymedio, Yosmany
Mayeta Labrada | Translating Cuba –