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
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