Pandemic and detergent

I search, without success, for a bottle of detergent to wash the glasses smeared with grease and fingerprints, which don’t yield to water and the dishcloth. Looking for the soapy liquid, I have walked part of Havana today, as the television announcers call on us to strengthen our hygiene before the advance of H1N1. The alert occasioned by the epidemic, however, has not caused the shops to lower the price of cleaning products, not even the cost of simple soap which is the equivalent of the wages for a full day’s work. Instead, the opposite has happened. The collapse in imports has been most notable in those that are used to bathe and disinfect.

The voice of the announcer calls on us to wash our hands often, use handkerchiefs when we sneeze and maintain good personal hygiene, but the reality forces us into filth. We lack face masks, running water in many houses, the simple possession of vitamin C to strengthen the organism, and cleanliness in public places. Thus, the so-called “swine flu” has fertile ground to reproduce. While it advances through our neighborhoods, the official media maintain their reserve and don’t mention the closed schools, the quarantined sites and the full hospitals.

This illusion of paradise is killing us. This wanting it to appear that we live better and that our statistics put us at the world average, cannot manage to hide the fragility of our society in the face of an epidemic that requires material resources in the hands of citizens. If soaping the body and having a bit of alcohol to sterilize the hands become luxuries, how can we stop the pandemic that is already upon us? If the September ration of soap never even reached the rationed market, how is it possible that on TV they call for hygiene without referring to the material resources to accomplish it. Is it that they haven’t noticed before that we are sinking into the dirt? They have to face the ravages of conjunctivitis, diarrhea, and the viruses to figure out that sanitation is not only a white coat and a stethoscope, but starts in the streets, with collecting the garbage, with showers in the houses and with a mother who cannot wash the plate her child will eat off.

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8 thoughts on “Pandemic and detergent

  1. Yoani, you are doing a great job in excellent English to show the reality of cuba to the world. I was in Cuba in 2003, it’s a fact that people stop you everywhere to ask for simple things like soap, some clothes, etc… The reality for the Cubans without
    political connections is really hard. I wish you a lot of success with your Blog.
    Paulo.

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  3. John Bibb:

    No one wants to bring the US into communism or socialism. As if you even know what it means.

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  5. Kaleidoscope:

    If you speak Spanish, try the Spanish blog if you want to lure Castro’s propaganda people. Apparently they are short of English speaking agents. Either that or more likely, they just can’t explain the shortage of soap in the island since they’ve cannibalized the cattle herds down to a couple of million. Before Castro, there were roughly as many cattle as people.

    What I don’t understand is why they can’t produce alcohol either, in a country where millions of acres of sugarcane used to be grown. Let them try and explain that, instead of attacking and jailing those who ask the questions.

  6. ***
    I hope the H1N1 flu will not hit Cuba hard. I have two doctor sons–one of them had two children sick with this flu. They got better soon.
    ***
    Too bad the U.S. Black Congressional Congress members who visited Cuba and praised Castro can’t (or won’t) learn from Yoani and the Cuban bloggers how a person has to WORK ALL HOLY DAY LONG to buy a bottle of dish washing soap. They want socialism or communism for my country. Like Lenin said, “USEFUL IDIOTS!”
    ***
    Espero que el “flu” H1N1 no pegara muy duro en Cuba. Tengo dos hijos medicos–uno tuvo dos hijos enfermos con esta flu. Ellos mejoraban pronto.
    ***
    Lastima que los membros del Congressional Congreso Negro quienes visitaban Cuba y dieron “hosannahs” a Castro no puedan (o no quieren) apprender de Yoani y los bloggers Cubanos como una persona tiene que TRABAJAR TODO EL SANTO DIA para comprar una botella de jabon de trastes. Ellos quieren socialismo o communismo por mi pais. Como dijo Lenin, “IDIOTAS UTILES!”
    ***
    John Bibb
    ***

  7. It would be great if a defender of the regime would offer their excuse or opinion in explaining why there is no detergent or soap in Cuba, one of the essential items required in any halfway civilized society.

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