HAVANA, Cuba. – The second month of 2023 isn’t quite over yet, and the year is beginning to resemble –actually looking worse than- 2022 as far as “bad luck” is concerned. The explosion at the Caribbean Hotel and the fire that caused a blackout in the eastern half of the island, even if less intensive but similar and equally suspicious in “accidentalness”, are warnings that the “losing streak” is still stuck to our clothes because, evidently, we haven’t known how to rid ourselves of it the right way.
Although resorting to the supernatural for an explanation lacks “objectivity” and is nowhere near professional journalism, an excess of “similarities” and too many “mysteries” makes it easy for us to get goosebumps, especially since in our culture, in our traditions, there is a magic component that makes us think in terms of good and bad “vibes”, in terms of “aché”, “iré” and “osogbo”. Blessings and misfortunes.
And if, on the one hand, our superstitions are aided by that “half language” spoken by the official press and the regime itself in its “informative notes” – where secrecy opens the door to rumor and speculation- on the other hand, it becomes impossible to stop paying attention to that ancestral wisdom which at least attempts to give explanations and even solutions to our uncertainty.
However, when we thought everything about “gas leaks” was “under control”, a second explosion takes place in a hotel, in the same “luxury circuit” down Prado Boulevard all the way to Monte Street, and still no one issues conclusive, detailed statements about the causes of the first explosion at the Saratoga Hotel.
And precisely because the official press, under the regime’s instructions, insists that it’s all “a coincidence”, they are the ones that make Cuban men and women convinced that the tragedies are stalking us like divine punishment.
In the last few days, I have heard people –and even some friends I didn’t think were very “superstitious”- speak in the street about dozens of magical explanations about why the “signs” and “tragedies” reiterate themselves as if we were trapped in a curse of the evil eye; they wonder about the real source of such misery.
Starting with holy offerings brought from Africa during the Angolan War without the appropriate rituals that now are asking for their return [to Africa], to theories of fanatic Castro lunatics who, disillusioned and mentally affected by Miguel Díaz-Canel’s “continuity” attribute to Fidel Castro’s “angry spirit” this sort of “Marxist-Leninist final judgement” that takes the form of too many “accidents”, explosions and mistakes, including the failure of the economic “reordering”.
Things like that are said in this demented country, so much so that they emerge as urban legends, about buildings and objects in particular. And, if I had heard some already, like, for example, about the “revolutionary miracles” of the burial stone at the Santa Efigenia Cemetery, there are others about the so-called K Tower (the very one that is soon to become the tallest hotel in Cuba on 23rd Avenue in El Vedado) which I just heard when the latest “accidental incidents” took place.
It so happens that some people have begun to find “magical” connections (that are not real) between the rapid rise of the “López-Calleja Tower” and the continued deterioration of neighboring buildings, including the Habana Libre Hotel.
“For every window that is installed, a window at the Habana Libre falls, for each floor they build, another one has to be closed down at the Habana Libre,” a neighbor tells me. He has established a relationship between progress at the GAESA skyscraper and the deterioration of the whole city.
“It’s as if it were syphoning the energies of Havana, as if this building were drying up the other building. Just look at how everything is destroyed, and only that building shines amidst so much poverty,” laments this gentleman while he questions what good a building this size will be when no tourists are coming to Cuba and there’s an excess of empty guest rooms in the older hotels.
“Ever since they started building this hotel, everything has gotten worse and worse,” states a lady while making the sign of the cross over her chest and whispering a prayer as she briefly looks at the building and quickly looks away, as if this was “the Devil’s work”.
“It’s diabolic. Just look at how everything has turned grey around it. When we have blackouts at night, this building is the only thing that glows in the dark. You get chills,” states this woman. After giving her “magic” explanation, and perhaps unconsciously, she evades speaking about the true relationship between the regime’s stubbornness for a construction on which it is betting all its resources, and the surrounding neglect, which is related more to the negative effects on the economy, including material shortages that your average Cuban endures.
I take as “curious” the reasons that these people may have, the ones that see “divine signals” instead of the real reasons why the gold dome of the Capitol Building glows, and only a few feet away, the streets where regular people live and stroll deteriorate from the urine, the destruction and the rot. What is happening in Cuba is evident, and it has nothing to do with “bad luck” or with the mediocrity, excesses and ambitions of the military elite that has kidnapped power.
What is wrong, and will continue to be wrong, is the immobility, the servility, the complicity of those of us who do nothing to change things, which is how we remain in the same damned situation of reaping what we sow.
Just that unhinged are some people around here that they’ll do anything to not face the hard and naked truth. It’s better that they be regarded as demented than as “enemies”. After all, only the enemies are silenced, jailed and punished, while the demented ones are left to wander the streets. There aren’t enough resources at the mental hospitals: those are needed to raise a new hotel.
ARTÍCULO DE OPINIÓN
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