The Empty Platform

Trains Havana-Bejucal 1835. Image taken from lacomunidad.elpais.com

Trains Havana-Bejucal 1835. Image taken from lacomunidad.elpais.com

The small train station bustles with life starting early. Students in the tightest uniforms pass by, and a newspaper seller announces the boring Granma every day. There are paper cones of peanuts, workers selling soft drinks, and several people who have slept all night on cardboard on the floor. The place — despite its insignificant architecture — could be a train station in any city in the world. There is only one thing missing from the scene, something that stands out by its absence: there isn’t a train in sight. The rails are empty and no locomotive can be made out, not even the sound of a whistle in the distance. At mid-morning a lone coach limps in, with the initials DB (Deutsche Bahn) still painted on the side. Passengers board with reluctance, although the odd child still greets them smiling from the window.

Cuba had the first railroad in Latin America, inaugurated in a November like this one 175 years ago. The Havana-Bejucel section was created a decade before Spain — then a metropolis — began operating trains in its own territory. But it is not just a question of dates, but that on this Island the rail lines spread out across the country like a backbone from which sprouted infinite branches. Life in many small towns began to be measured between the coming of one car and another, between the arrivals and departures that appeared on the notice board in each station. The everyday smell came from the “aroma” that arises from the friction of the metal of the wheels on that of the rails. But little remains today of that prominent railroad. One day we said goodbye from the platform to the last train where we felt comfortable, and from that moment climbed aboard another that was an uncomfortable, difficult and distressing experience.

Although in the past year repair work has been carried out on the routes, and the cargo moved along them has more than doubled, the damage suffered by the Cuban railroad system is of a seriousness that cannot be quantified in numbers. The main problem is not the lack of punctuality in the departures, nor the deteriorated cars, nor even the bathrooms so filthy they can’t be called sanitary services. Nor is it the systematic theft of the passengers’ belongings, the mistreatment of the clients by many of the employees, the constant cancellations of departures, or the alarming lack of safety reflected in frequent accidents. The greatest deterioration has occurred in the minds of Cubans, for whom the railroad has ceased to be the inter-provincial mode of transport par excellence. Those millions of people who no long measure the rhythm of their lives by the whistle of the locomotive, who no longer proudly salute from the window of a car. The hackneyed scene of the goodbye kiss in the station, the handkerchief waving from the empty platform, the decades long absence of the principal protagonist: a train about to leave, a long iron snake ready to travel the backbone of this Island.

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66 thoughts on “The Empty Platform

  1. In November 1902 the construction of the Central Railway which ran the length of the island was finish, and the new 573 kilometers of tracks connecting Santiago de Cuba to Santa Clara, were connected to the existing 288 kilometers connecting La Habana to Santa Clara. The travel time between La Habana and Santiago took only 24 hours. This brought prosperity from one end of the island to the other.

    In July 1953 the Cuban government acquired the railway company assets of Ferrocarriles Unidos de la Habana. A joint venture with the estate was formed operating under the name Ferrocarriles Occidentales de Cuba, controlling the railway system between Pinar del Río and Santa Clara.

    Cuba in 1958 had 15,164 kilometers of railway; 565 locomotive; 400 passenger cars; 100 boxcars and more than 10,000 freight cars. Of the 15,164 kilometers of railway, 5,862 were of public service and 9,302 serviced the sugar industry

  2. Of course, I could also point out that CUBA was an imperialist colony until Castros threw out the capitalists, and as such it was a commodities source, not an independent country interested in self-development and prosperity.

    Hence, there was no railway industry developed on the island. The rail way was built by foreigners, using a foreign technology that in agricultural colony CUBA, simply did not and could not exist. The same regent queen of Spain Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies did absolutely

    NOTHING

    to open a factory and develop an industry that would see Cuba

    MAKE

    its’ own railroads and carriages.

    Now, why is that?

    Just don’t expect the team “yoani” to be the “journalists” and actually investigate the story.

    They are paid to undersign cia-written nazist propaganda, not to write about the truth.

  3. Cuba’s railway history began in the 1837 when Compañía de Caminos de Hierro de La Habana built a 27 km line from Havana to Bejucal.

    By 1958, Cuba had 15,000 km of railways throughout the island. Cuba had more railroads per square mile than any other country in the world. The present railway system is only 8,193 km in length; this is a reduction of 45% from 1958. Not even the railway system has escaped the Castro brothers’ inept regime.

  4. Anonimo,

    Two types of people post idiotic trash here.

    The first are Castro employees.

    The second are Castro fans who think they’re starring in some sort of Matrix or Star Wars sequel. They use “evil empire” a lot.

    If they got out from heads out of their computer screens and conspiracy sites, they might found out about a real world out there.

  5. Damir, you haven’t made anything clear at all. And why would you use a proxy in Australia? What are you hiding?

  6. The “friendly” translator again trying to make up with her modest (seriously modest. well, non-existent really) intellect what the others lack completely…

    Insisting on me living in Australia, when I made it clear to all that I use a proxy in australia. I even said a few times where do I live actually, and work.

    Hillarious.

    Don’t get me wrong: everything you brainwashed and ideologically poisoned useful id***s ( an official cia code-name for domestic traitors serving the cia, and usanian own delusional helpers and volunteers who wage a war for the nazist dictatorship without even understanding the point of that war) write is mmensely stupid.

    But hillarious too…

  7. DAMIR do your

    superiors where you

    WORK

    know you write this cret****s

    BULLSHIFT??????!!!!!!!!!

    It’s hillarious(sic)!!!! Think I’ll send it to them.

  8. 57. People who make me vomit are people who live in luxury in Australia and talk about the evils of capitalism and the wonders of Cuba. Did you sleep in this morning Damir, you’re a bit late off the mark.

  9. Same old bullshift, recycled over and over, it makes me vomit every time these copycat losers and tossers repeat these “magic” words and think people will fall for them.

    Describes your rants to a t, baby.

  10. ANd wor fhat it’s worth,m it is impossible to teach these “freedom loverz” the difference between the economy and the “capitalism”.

    Sadly for the criminals, they are two

    DIFFERENT

    things altogether and contrary to one of many popular delusions, almost nothing in the world was built by “capitalist” ideals. Except the weapons and horrors of wars.

    Money, on the other hand, is entirely different thing. But I do not expect an anonimous cr***n (hi “friendly”) to understand that. When a brain is required, do not expect a delusional conservative ideologist to be of any assistance. Beyond murder and destruction these brains cannot neither muster nor understand anything.

  11. Of course, I could also point out that CUBA was an imperialist colony until Castros threw out the capitalists, and as such it was a commodities source, not an independent country interested in self-development and prosperity.

    Hence, there was no railway industry developed on the island. The rail way was built by foreigners, using a foreign technology that in agricultural colony CUBA, simply did not and could not exist. The same regent queen of Spain Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies did absolutely

    NOTHING

    to open a factory and develop an industry that would see Cuba

    MAKE

    its’ own railroads and carriages.

    Now, why is that?

    Don’t expect the traitor and terrorist wannabe nail-biter to respond and answer this question though. The hypocrite never does. Tjose brain-deprived terrorist wannabies are the most dangerous criminals one can imagine. They destroy something they do not understand and then pilfer the valuables and disappear.

    And never answer the questions they themselves had initiated.

    So the pathetic words like these:

    “The hackneyed scene of the goodbye kiss in the station, the handkerchief waving from the empty platform, the decades long absence of the principal protagonist: a train about to leave, a long iron snake ready to travel the backbone of this Island.”

    are just that. Pathetic.

    But then, whe have learned to expect that from the liars, criminals and terrorist wannabies, who hide their dark intentions under the veil of “the people”, “democracy”, “freedom of speech” and whatnot.

    Same old bullshift, recycled over and over, it makes me vomit every time these copycat losers and tossers repeat these “magic” words and think people will fall for them.

  12. Dumbir:
    95% of everything in the world is built with “capitalist” ideals.

    Even the toilet paper that you wipe your dumb as* with amigo.

  13. What a delusional post by the team “yoani”. The resourcefulness is incredible. The ability to come up with a subject to use in support of their failed and dangerously delusional ideology is enormous!!!

    For example:

    “Cuba had the first railroad in Latin America, inaugurated in a November like this one 175 years ago. The Havana-Bejucel section was created a decade before Spain — then a metropolis — began operating trains in its own territory.”

    Let us first REMEMBER WHO AND WHY HAD BUILT THE FIRST RAIL ROAD IN CUBA:

    The regent queen of Spain Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies approved the building of the first line. And what was it for?

    For transport of sugar cane from the fields to the port of La Habana

    Hardly a “samaritan” act from a dictatorial monarch!!! Even more improbable that it was built for the “Cuban people”, when it was built by private capital and blessign from the throne, which had a direct interest in the tax that was going to come into their personal coffers as a result of the rail. Little wonder the despotic monarch never thought of their subjects in Spain itself, where there were many more people to attend to with such a “comfort” as the traitor and a terrorist wannabe want us to believe.

    The rail in Cuba was from the very beginning a capitalist enterprise designed to make money for its’ owners, not to serve the people.

    Only a delusional history revisionist, like the traitor and terrorist wannabe nail biter signing this post although she is clearly in no such intellectual state to be the author of this crafted lie and propaganda, could be so stupid to actually side with this perverted capitalist propaganda, pretending that socialism is guilty for everything, when it is really the capitalism that is the root of everything evil they are now complaining about, balming socialism for it.

    The next they will tell us that the current self-distruction of the capitalit world s we know it is also Made in Cuba.

    Bloody Castros… I knew it from beginning that it was them…!!!

  14. man who cums around, dear, if you want to talk to Cubans from Cuba you have to travel to Cuba. This website and many other anti Castro blogs are not working in Cuba. Yes there is internet in Cuba but you can’t access anti Castro websites

  15. What???? Stop the presses…..the Mouse has seen a Matrix movie. You mean you watch Hollywood (you know, in the big old bad United States), movies? How utterly consumerist and capitalistic of you. You little rodent hypocrite, you.

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