Thursday, May 18, 2017

Reparto Eléctrico: causeways, mounds of garbage, spillage, and zero cultural life

Reparto Eléctrico: causeways, mounds of garbage, spillage, and zero
cultural life
JORGE ENRIQUE RODRÍGUEZ | La Habana | 18 de Mayo de 2017 - 12:38 CEST.

The Consejo Popular Eléctrico, in the Havana municipality of Arroyo
Naranjo, is another example of a "marginalized neighborhood" stemming
from the Government's erroneous practices with regards to socio-cultural
and economic issues, complain residents.

"It is hard to say that Reparto Eléctrico is a community when the first
idea that comes to mind, if you pay attention, is its absolute
desolation, in every way," says Luis Alcides, while waiting in a long
line to withdraw money from the only ATM in the area.

"In Reparto we don't have even a CADECA (currency exchange center.). The
closest one is in Mantilla, five bus stops away," says Lazara Mena,
standing in the same line.

"There is a small branch of the Banco Metropolitano, where transactions
are limited, and a little stand to pay phone bills, or for retirees to
collect their pensions. But they close around 3:00 in the afternoon.
After that time you have to go to La Víbora," she adds.

Other inhabitants complain about the deterioration and neglect the
neighborhood suffers from, which has worsened in the last 15 years.

With a current population of approximately 19,515, distributed in six
different sections, Reparto Eléctrico - formerly known as Finca
Parcelación Blanquita - was completed on 26 August, 1952, on a lot of
5.2 caballerías (some 495 acres), thanks to a contribution of 48,000 USD
from the Electrical Company Retirement Fund.

After rising to power in 1959, Fidel Castro's Government nationalized
the electric company, and also distribution.

According to Isabel Díaz, a Metrology and Quality technician, what
really characterizes the area today are "causeways instead of streets,
mounds of garbage, wastewater leaks, limited lighting and public
telephone services, and no cultural life."

"A cityscape that truly illustrates marginalization, where you have the
feeling that the bushes are going to swallow the buildings. And there is
never any answer about who is in charge of the distribution and
implementation of state public utilities, because here, except for the
general hospital and the schools, nothing works or exists."

Manuel Triana, a retired cartographer, says that she is proud of the
fact that Popular Power delegates and territorial leaders don't like her.

"My questions irk them. They never show up when a problem is pressing.
They appear for patriotic celebrations, when the main street is all
decked out, the day after the garbage is collected. I always tell them:
'You come one day, and I live with the disaster the other 29 days of the

Without cultural life or entertainment

In addition to the shortage of State establishments (which affects the
entire country), the dearth of public services, and the deterioration of
all the Consejo Popular Eléctrico's infrastructure, there is also a
cultural void.

"Except on those occasions when artistic activities are organized by
order of the Municipal Cultural Board, there is no cultural life here,
even though we have the Casa de Cultura 13 de Agosto," grumbles Natacha
Gutiérrez, age 24.

"At 9:00 everything stops, and the only services are those offered by
the self-employed. But it can´t all be eating and drinking," says
Ernesto Rosa.

"The Casa de Cultura has a program, but it does not address the
entertainment interests of this community, and I don't mean just the
teenagers, but also the children and the adults. The Casa de Cultura is
like a church, it's so quiet there."

Madelyn Reygada, the mother of a 15-year-old son, says that she was
recently summoned by a police unit in Zapata, in Vedado, because her son
was caught with two friends taking selfies on the statue of Eloy Alfaro,
on G Street.

"The officers behaved decently. But they asked me an incredible
question: why my son went from here all the way to Vedado to have fun. I
didn't even bother responding."

Local residents do not view their socio-cultural impoverishment as a
unique, unusual or isolated case, but rather part of a phenomenon of
marginalization that, Luis Alcides observed, extends through Havana's
humblest neighborhoods, whether "central or on the outskirts."

An official with the municipal council in Arroyo Naranjo, who requested
anonymity, stated that the "private sector could help to enrich the
social, cultural and economic life of these neighborhoods."

"But there are many limitations and regulations imposed by the State on
self-employment. As long as there is no public participation in the
design of the country's cultural policy, we will witness the
marginalization of an entire city."

Source: Reparto Eléctrico: causeways, mounds of garbage, spillage, and
zero cultural life | Diario de Cuba -

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