Party without guest of honor


A couple of days ago we held a small celebration with friends, in honor of the completion of the installation of new elevators. The party was well deserved because for more than seven months we had to climb up to our fourteenth floor via the stairs.  We let everyone know by phone that there would be merrymaking until late and everyone brought something to contribute to the fun.  It was a shame that they arrived so tired and with an expression on their faces of having been cheated, because  the brand new, recently installed Russian elevators announced with the flashing of their red lights that they were broken.

The officials who traveled to Russia to buy the new equipment had decided that it wasn’t necessary to spend the money to acquire the lateral guides for the elevators, a kind of track for where the car slides.  They had diagnosed that the old structures, installed more than twenty-five years ago, were compatible with the new equipment and they began to install them.  I’m not going to speak metaphorically or draw parallels between electromechanics and politics, but applying innovative transformations on demonstrably worn out tracks sounds familiar.

The end result has been little compatibility between the old Soviet elements and the new Russian equipment, which makes horrifying noises when going up and down, in addition to constantly breaking.  Supposedly the installation is already done; in the business plan it must be put in writing with the word “completed” and soon the mechanics will be off to another building.  However, we continue ascending most of the time by the stairs and we look like jokers to our friends, who think our party was a joke in bad taste, to inaugurate the elevators that don’t move.


28 thoughts on “Party without guest of honor

  1. Well, am Cuban and I left Cuba 16 years ago, I honestly don’t relieve that Yoany is in Cuba ,Nobody have that power in Cuba, to criticize the government….mmmmm……This is fishy…..

  2. Now you are scaring me !How will I know if he is “one of them” ? I don’t think he is ,but thanks,I will be careful next time I go to “my” resort.

  3. 24
    Junio 12th, 2009 at 01:19
    All rules has its exceptions and exceptions just confirm the rules. By the way, Customer Relations guys in all cuban resort are the political police guys. They are in charge of gain your confidence, “fix” your room to film and tape you, find a prostituted child for you if you are a pedophile, find an adult male or female prostitute for you, try to involve you in uncomfortable moral situations, political situations or ideological situations depending of the kind of life you live in your home country and then send to you a copy of what they filmed or taped when they believe you can be a “collaborator” of the “revolution” …. so, beware of your friend.

  4. I don’t know a lot about Cuban laws,but in the resort where I have been staying a couple of times,there are quite few black people working.One of them (my friend)works at Customer Relations,meaning he has a lot of contact with tourists.

  5. 19
    Junio 11th, 2009 at 03:52

    Anonimo, you do know that by Cuban law Yoani can only pay a maximum of 10% of her salary as rent and most Cubans own their homes or apartments.
    You do perfect know that cuban tyranny violates its own laws constantly. For example it constitution says no one can be discriminated by race, religion or ideology and it is constantly violated. Cuba’s jails are full almost exclusively with black people, black people can not work in the tourism industry in workplaces where they can be seen by tourists, some religious denomination are so discriminated that theirs members only can work as waste collectors and you can’t study a superior career if you are not a government supporter. “University is only for revolutionary people”…. do you remember this sign outside Havana’s University????
    Of course, the tyranny also violates the housing law and the average rent for an apartment is around 400 pesos a month ($20). It is true the most people in Cuba owns theirs houses but it is not a new thing. The most people that owns houses in Cuba became owners before the tyranny took power. What happen is that the tyranny has been incapable of supply housing for the increased cuban population and the new generations still lives with theirs parents and grandparents who are the owners. In 1959 Cuba had 6 millions inhabitants and almost all of them owned theirs homes…. today there is almost 14 millions inhabitants that lives together with those “ancient” owners. The average number of occupants of a standar cuban family house (2 rooms 1 bathroom) is 10 persons, people became exceptional interior designers in order of adequate the interior of a house or apartment originally calculated for 2-3 persons and convert it in a shelter for 8-12 persons.
    The tyranny has built some thousands apartment buildings but they take a rent that is around 200% over the average salary (200 pesos) violating it own housing law.

  6. Leftists seem to have difficulty understanding that, in the US, neither the police nor the courts are under the control of the government. Even Argentine President Cristina de Kirchner insisted that, when some Venezuelan agents, arrested in Miami, revealed illegal contributions by Chavez to her campaign fund (but were probably lying), their arrest was a plot by the American government to undermine her. The fate of the five terrorists is not in political hands.
    The world is replete with Castro’s agents. In the EL PAIS feature on the colony of the gilded children of the communist aristocracy in Spain, it was revealed that none was free of the supervision of the regime. If the Stalinists devoted a fraction of the resources they expend on oppression to doing something worthwhile, perhaps the island would be in less desperate shape.

  7. The “Cuban Five” are convicted and confessed SPYS. They confessed to phoning in Bomb threats within the US. They should be hung from a big tree. They are not only 5 either there are many more, “Cuba only recognizes 5”. The Cuban 5 have comitted crimes and have had much professional legal teams represented them. UNLIKE the political pisoners locked up in Cuban Jails.

  8. I had heard that the dissidents in Cuba did not want to be traded for the Cuban Five if they were required to leave Cuba. I say release the Cuban Five, one each year with the condition of releasing 20% of Cuba’s political prisoners each year (per each of the Cuban Five) with the last one pending no bullshit imprisoments by the Castro Goverment in the previous 4 years! Maybe I should work for Obama.

  9. Anonimo, you do know that by Cuban law Yoani can only pay a maximum of 10% of her salary as rent and most Cubans own their homes or apartments.

  10. Humberto, ah North Korea, you would have to bring those wackos up. And I mean wackos in the sociopathic sense.

    Meanwhile Cuba has its own wackiness. According to Granma, Ricardo Alarcon has his knickers tied in a knot about the possibility that the USA might actually release and expel four of the so-called Cuban Five:

    “RICARDO Alarcón, president of Cuba’s Parliament, has warned of a new maneuver designed to divide the Cuban five, political prisoners in the United States, and reiterated that their release depends on President Barack Obama…

    He noted that the U.S. Supreme Court is to announce in the next few days whether or not it will review the case. With respect to that, the Miami media is proposing to release four of them and maintain the double life sentence for Gerardo Hernandez, in order to satisfy the spirit of vengeance of the pro-annexation mafia.

    “This is something that we should categorically reject,” Alarcón explained to the audience, which included relatives of the Five…” [end of Granma quote].

    Heaven forbid that the “five” should be divided. Better to keep them all locked up. Just think of the propaganda value.

    Meanwhile, in his latest “reflection,” Fidel Castro is still trying to figure out the best line of attack against Barack Obama. After cutting and pasting extensively from Obama’s Cairo speech, it’s seems Castro’s line of attack is that unlike Bush who was an instrument of the evil empire, Obama is an unwitting accomplice of the evil empire (albeit an articulate and energetic accomplice which Castro in his demented way seems to admire).

  11. Oh, one more example of blatant hypocrisy in Cuban state media. The Cuban regime likes to rail against the restrictions against ordinary US citizens on travel to one country (Cuba), failing to point out that Cuba places restrictions on the right of its citizens to travel to all countries.

    The reason the Cuban regime seems to get away with this hypocrisy is the absence of an independent and free press. The regime knows that its lies will never be contradicted by the state media.

  12. Candido, I rather enjoy responding to inept provokers like #9.

    This also give me an opportunity to respond to your comment #8. Like you, I notice the blatant hypocrisy in Cuban state media all the time. For example, pointing out the failings in the US judicial system involving cases like the so-called Cuban Five, while completely ignoring that a kind description of their own judicial system would be ‘kangaroo courts.’ Or, hailing the election of leftist leaders in other Latin American countries, while refusing to submit themselves to the judgment of the Cuban people in free and fair multiparty elections.

    By the way for those not familiar with term ‘kangaroo court, here’s a dictionary definition: “slang for a court of law in which the violations of procedure, precedents, and due process are so gross that fundamental justice is denied.”

  13. With a salary of 71.00 per year they have enough to go to CLUB TROPICANA ONCE. What happens in Cuba is a Shame and a new PEOPLES REVOLUTION is needed.

  14. The comment # 9 was done by a provoker!!!!,,,don’t follow his game!!!



  15. John Two
    Junio 10th, 2009 at 18:06
    Dear John, the intention of commenter Anonomo #9 is not to give a meaning to his comment but create mistrust on Yoani’s post.
    The average salary of a cuban worker is $71 a year and the average rent for an apartment like Yoani’s apartment is $20 a month what is $240 a year.

  16. #9, disclosing the rent you pay without referencing your income is meaningless. In the Canadian city where I live, the average after-tax income for a two-parent family with a child (same family type as Yoani’s) is $8,000 per month. The average monthly rent for a typical two-bedroom apartment is $1,100 per month. So for most families in my city, housing is quite affordable.

    Another thing. In my city any apartment building owner that took seven months and then did a faulty job of repairing an elevator in a 14 story plus residential highrise would not be in business very long. And, as long as they were in business they would have by now faced stiff fines for building code violations. Elevators in residential highrises are absolutely essential, especially for residents with mobility problems, and that’s one of the reasons they’re subject to periodic inspection to ensure they meet code requirements. Another reason is that they can be very dangerous if they malfunction.

    I know some people will say it’s not fair to compare Cuba to Canada, but you’re the one who first raised your situation in an attempt to contrast it with Yoani’s.

  17. 1,000 per month with hot and cold water,complete toilet seats,new kitchen appliances, and working elevator. If it does not work I call the land lord and they have to come out and fix it.

  18. wow…yoani your good…..your unbelievable. incredible ,amazing ,.unreal your cool……… how much is your rent my i pay 1300 a month for a 10 th floor 1 bedroom….

  19. Today, by pure curiosity, I was giving a glance at the newspaper “Granma” (the digital version), then, I saw a comic carton (caricature) where one American homeless is asking to another American homeless :

    You lost your job?, then, the other one answered: My job?,,,no I lost hope!!!!

    That expression is ,unbelievable!!!!,,incredible!!!, amazing!!!!, unreal!!!!,,, I don’t know until where the cynicism, lies and hypocrisy, can go!!!! being Cuba the Champion, the maximum exponent, the top, the Mecca, where the hope to loss the hope was lost since 50 years ago!!!!


  20. Kraa is correct. Things were similar in the old Warsaw Pact – not so bad in the old Czechoslovakia (the Czech Republic is post communist) but maybe even worse in Roumania – and for much the same reason. In a socialist society there is no “capitalist” incentive to satisfy the customer and even people who wish to be conscientious usually can’t get the resources. No matter how much effort you put in, you won’t make any difference. The system will defeat you. The aim is to keep your head down and not annoy anyone in authority. It wouldn’t be worth the lift engineers while to contradict the orders they were given, or to waste time trying to get it right. And they are probably not well remunerated. As they used to say in the old East Germany, “If they pretend to pay us, we’ll pretend to work.”

  21. The casa I stay in Habana Vieja is ten stories.

    One of the two Otis elevators is always “roto.”

    They seem to alternate…at the beginning of my trip it’s this one…when I return from the campo…it’s the other one.

    Both smell terribly!…with worn linoleum…and a greasy control panel…missing half the buttons.

    The first time I used it…in 1996…I quietly muttered a prayer to myself.

    Now…after countless visits…I just glance to see which one’s running…and hope I don’t have to hike the ten floors…carrying luggage loaded down with gifts and medicines.

  22. ***
    Yoani Sanchez is a slim good looking lady. Keep using the stairs for your health and safety.
    Yoani Sanchez es una mujer delgada y bonita. Siga usando las escaleras por su salud y seguridad.
    John Bibb

  23. As soon as I did read this Yoanis’s article, came to my mind examples that still are fresh in my memories. The Yoanis’s elevator situation is not unique, it has been the normal pattern of the Cuban style of life during the last 50 years (growing to worsen!!!! step by step).

    Here I remember some of those examples:

    1-Old Havana (Habana Vieja) – the part where most of the normal people have their homes, because there is another small side that is just for tourism -, is a neighborhood that look like a city on wooden crutches, the cornerstones of wood can be seen everywhere, the balconies, the roofs, etc, supported by them, are the only solution that the Government has found it.

    The Cuban’s leaders they don’t care about it , because they never will be passing by or under to be involved in a building collapse!!!!.

    2-Central Road (Carretera Central) was, for long time the only road joining the extreme East to the extreme West , it is a typical road , just with one lane for each direction, but, anybody that wants to pass a test to drive the Daytona 500, has to do the trip from Pinar del Rio until Santiago de Cuba, then, after avoid more than one million holes, batches , etc, etc, will be qualified to drive until the moon herself!!!!if, it was able to survive the all trip!!!.

    3-The daily garbage pick up.

    Somebody that just came from Cuba not long ago, told me a metaphor that was very impressive : He said, that when he saw the trees with plastic garbage bags hanging from the branches, he though that every Cuban tree was a “Christmas tree”!!!!! why the bags were hanging from the branches?,,,because the pick up truck will be passing whenever they can, then the population wants to avoid that the dogs, the cats, the rats, etc, would be able to open up and disperse the garbage all around.

    4-Flooding when it rains.

    You should see the Pastrana River (Rio Pastrana) located in Luyano, or Kibu River (Rio Kibu) located in Marianao, or Almendares River (Rio Almendares) passing by several municipalities, all those rivers in top of their surface usually without raining there is cream of 3-4 inches of garbage and rooting that when it’s raining would be running all the way across of every town, municipality, etc, leaving behind
    the stench, rot and diseases, the Government does not care,,,anyway none of his leaders are leaving close to those rivers!!!!.

    I could mention thousand of examples, but, I would be repeating the same thing every time.

    I know that examples like those could be seen in the third world in many countries, but Cuba’s Revolution , according with Castro’s words, according with everything he and his maffiosa gang has been repeating for more than 50 years, was done to avoid and solve those problems, was done to improve the Cuban society, the Cuban style of life, but now, Cuban’s situation is worse than 50 years ago!!!!!


  24. While reading your blog, many times it yields a deja vu on how it was here in Czech Republic before 1989 (though it was much softer here…). Good luck.

  25. From what I’ve been reading, you won’t have the electricity to “waste” on such luxuries, anyway! But look on the bright side: in the capitalist world you have to pay to do step-aerobics in the gym. On a more serious note, however, one wonders what the lack of power will do to other facilities, such as the disintegrating sewers. If the Zimbabwe experience is anything to go by, this supposedly world-class health service (that none of the Party aristocracy would touch with a barge-pole)will soon be put to the test.

Comments are closed.