Dengue Zika Chikungunya Cuba
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    Relentless Persecution / Rebeca Monzo

    Rebeca Monzo, Translator: Unstated

    There is a new wave of public health workers whose job is to visit homes

    looking for infestations of the aedes aegyptimosquito. Almost all of

    them are older and retired. In many cases they have backgrounds in the

    communist party or armed forces, and seem to have taken their task very

    seriously. These people can show up at any time from morning to evening,

    and get especially upset if someone cannot or will not let them in for

    any particular reason. They then ring the doorbell obsessively, pound on

    the door frenetically, and even make threats in a loud voice so that

    everyone else hears them and takes note.

    I have a friend who lives alone and is recuperating from an accident.

    Her apartment is on an upper floor of a beautiful building from the

    1950s in Vedado. For two weeks one of these infestation inspectors, as

    they call themselves, have been visiting her, insisting that she open

    the door and let her in to inspect the apartment. My friend has told her

    through the door that she cannot open it because she is alone and has

    problems with mobility. This woman nonetheless becomes enraged and has

    threatened her with fines. She even had the nerve to come back on more

    than one occasion, either alone or with a member from the Committees for

    the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), to try to get her to open it. Since

    she has not been successful in these attempts, she has filed complaints

    with the CDR branch of the building in question. My friend has remained

    firm in her decision and, on the advice of people who respect her, has

    gone to file a complaint with the medical authorities at the

    neighborhood clinic to which she belongs, asking them to respond to

    these inspectors.

    While I was at home today—I don't open the door for anyone I don't know

    when I am alone either—someone was aggressively ringing the doorbell.

    Thinking it must be a very close friend, I came out of the bathroom

    covered only with a towel and looked across the balcony without being

    seen. It turned out it was one of those inspectors, now so common in the

    area, who was insistently pressing the doorbell with, let's just say, a

    certain fury. He could not see me, but I could see him, so I went back

    to finish my interrupted bath while the man in question kept pressing

    the doorbell as if he were attached to it.

    These scenes are repeatedly continually in any given neighborhood.

    Besides being useless exercises, they amount to an unacceptable form of

    persecution. The authorities do not realize that illnesses such as

    dengue, which used not to exist in our country but which have now been

    uncontrollable for three decades, are a result of an unhealthy

    environment, urban decay, the accumulation of trash and debris

    everywhere, and inadequate or almost non-existent garbage collection,

    especially in neighborhoods where there are no trash cans and people

    hang their bags of waste from the trees or simply toss them into

    corners. Furthermore, since the situation is impacted by the lack of

    products to combat epidemics, the inadequate and almost non-existent

    control of stray animals, the clogging of sewers and drains, the lack of

    cleanliness on city buses and in parks, cafes, farmers markets, and

    which steadily worsens all the time.

    The state should set an example before being allowed to make demands on

    the population. Before persecuting and threatening people with fines, it

    should create conditions which promote good hygiene and insure the

    health of all the citizenry. Rather than sanctioning and harassing, it

    should educate by example and provide the necessary products and means

    at reasonable pricescommensuratewith people's salaries. Only in this way

    will we be freed from this relentless persecution.

    October 15 2012

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