When it rains

The sun hasn’t come out all day and a downpour constantly forces us to duck into some doorway or stay at home. One might think that in a tropical country life is organized taking the climate into account, and that along with our light clothing we always have umbrellas and raincoats at hand. Not so. Leaking roofs are common, especially in the construction of the last fifty years; homes, offices, schools and hospitals, and even stores suffer repeated losses because of them. Collapses, now typical in the urban landscape, are not the result of bombardments of imperialism, rather they are caused by the difficulty of acquiring waterproof construction materials.

“I couldn’t go because it was raining,” is the most common excuse of the season. Not coming, or arriving late, whether to work or a lovers’ assignation, is socially acceptable when we offer this convincing excuse. But it is not always a false pretext, because the sewers on streets where we live are blocked by vegetation, and the risk of falling into a water-covered pothole is a real possibility.

In foreign films we often see scenes of crowds in the rain. We are impressed by the image of a cloud of umbrellas that extends the length of a street or the full width of the stands in a stadium. We inevitably compare these scenes with the typical appearance of our streets during a cloudburst: nylon bags used as protection, trying to cover one’s head with the newspaper Granma or a piece of cardboard; older people waiting under the balconies or huddled together at a bus stop. The pleasure it almost always gives young people who defy the storm, running along, soaked to the skin, and using the first found object – a board or an old tire – to surf on the water, clinging to the bumper of a truck.

These are days to ask ourselves when we will have a raincoat – one without holes that fits – let alone what seems to be a pipe dream for so many, when the city will not collapse because of a simple shower that falls in the tropics.


118 thoughts on “When it rains

  1. Se muy bien que este mensaje pretende ser un criterio en contra una dictadura y tal vez en contra el embargo estado unidense. Pero la sencillez y la belleza de tus palabras tambien cautiivan mi alma y mi ser.

  2. Yoani may have something to say about the military exercises in due course.

    Hard to know in a totalitarian state where information is carefully controlled, but I wonder if the exercises are intended to blunt Obama’s clear message to Yoani that the US has not intention of intervening in Cuba militarily? I suspect Obama’s responses to Yoani questions are circulating around the island on CDs, text messages, etc. The exercises may be at least in part a desperate attempt to keep the threat of US bogeyman alive in the minds of the Cuban people.


    AFP ARTICLE: Cuba repels mock US attacks in major war games

    HAVANA — “Cuban President Raul Castro ordered his troops to “never give up” on Friday as his Caribbean island nation carried out war games designed to train for the possibility of a US attack.
    “Never give up the battle, regardless of the situation, even if you don’t have any information. Fight and fight until you wear down the enemy and you defeat them,” said Castro.

    “The objective is to never surrender, never to abandon the fight,” local media quoted the Cuban leader as saying.”

    “Since US President Barack Obama took office he has toned down US rhetoric against Cuba and ordered policy changes.
    But Cuba’s government said the measures, which include the end of travel restrictions for US citizens with Cuban family, fall short and demand the full lifting of sanctions and restoration of diplomatic relations severed in 1961.

    Obama has said fully-restored ties depend on Cuba improving its human rights record and moving towards democracy.”


  4. Anxiously waiting Yoanis’ next blog! I am sure it will address the current military excersizes by the Cuban Goverment and the ABSURDITY OF IT ALL! She has commented on this already on her Twitter!

  5. Sorry..Let me do it again..

    I’m reading all the comments, restraining myself , since my son is around. Thanks God he is nothing like his dad. ( my youngest is a carbon copy of myself… I know ..I’m in trouble..). My oldest the one who posted is the most well rounded kid I haver seen in along time.

    Any ways, after reading Andy’comment (#112).I can’t restrain myself anymore.The only thing I have to add is AMEN

  6. I’m reading all the comments, restraining myself , since my son is around. Thanks God he is nothing like his dad. ( my youngest is a carbon copy of myself… I know ..I’m in trouble..). My oldest the one who posted is the most well rounded kid I haver seen in along time.

    Any ways, after reading Andy’comment (#112).I can’t restrain myself .The only thing I have to add is AMEN.

  7. Macheteamor.. with regards to the media simplifying everything — trying to set up a dichotomy — there are two opinions in Cuba… Fidel’s and Yoani’s… You’re absolutely right. And the media does this not just about Cuba… they do it about everything. So again, it is the job of Yoani, and others, to resist this, not to play into the hands of the lazy media and the lazy readers and lazy TV watchers – who want everything in black and white.

    That of course characterizes the difficulty of all of our debates. If, like me, you believe that Fidel is SO EVIL that there are no shades of gray — then you cannot even credit him with any “good things” that have come from the revolution… for example universal literacy. If, on the other hand, like some others, you believe so strongly in the goals (if not, perhaps, the realities) of the revolution — then you “forgive” Fidel for all his evil because you believe so strongly in the goals.

    I believe there are a few people in the world so evil that I can credit them with nothing — but a man who enslaves a people for 50 years falls into that category. (And in this case, it’s not just the result of what he has done… it’s the clear pattern of behavior of one-man rule… this is not an oligarchy… a number of people with shared beliefs trying to move in a certain direction… this is a person who cares only for the HONEY OF POWER… his OWN power… no one else’s… make no mistake… he stands firm for only one belief… he should be King, absolute despot, the ruler of all he surveys.

    I suppose, in contrast, there are a few people in the world so “good” that they can be forgiven anything… but personally I could not name a single one. (And if I could.. it would probably be a completely unknown 5-year-old.)

    The rest of us must live in a world with shades of grey.

    We must resist the pressures of everyone — including the mass media — who would try to push us to the edges where life can be stated in black and white.

    And in our own conversations… trying to work through these challenges… we also must navigate the same dangerous waters… in our own minds, and together.

    So again, for Yoani to accept that characterization of her own role and her own words, would be to play into the hands of everything she stands against.

  8. Totally agree with You Macheteamor on 107!
    Please I am really glad you are commenting here and please never feel that your comments are not important even if they are to contradict something you think Yoani is not saying correctly.

    Nobody is perfect and people. Normal humans make mistakes.

    To think that one is above anyone else is to think like you know who.

    This is what democracy is about. When we can talk our differences as people without seen enemies and fights or struggles or whatever they like to portrait.

  9. Julio: (#109)
    as always you are right and I hope you washed your hands after you finished quoting fidel.
    Thanks for your insightful comment!

  10. Albert

    I also believe “they started with a “good intention””
    but it change very soon when they started to kill and murder innocent people without trials.

    At the end that seems to be close for them
    we can resume as I say before it looks to us now the reason was
    about having the
    “Honey of Power”
    I am quoting Fidel Castro himself!

  11. I guess I also want to add that what I like, and find refreshing about this blog, is that she often simply talks about the realities of everyday life. Obviously within a political context. But, she does often exclude talking about political events, other political people and players in Cuba. But I think that, while sometimes a little frustrating, this is what I like about her blog. It is very simple, she is able to convey the soul, suffering and yearning of the people with just a simple post about rain.

  12. Andy, thank you. I also agree that its best to have a wide diversity of opinions, rather than setting up one person to be the sole “voice”. Your right. That is also unfair to Yoani, to expect her to encompass everything. Its hard though, because sometimes people on the outside, like the press or politicians, only want to listen to one voice and expect one or two people to represent everyone because, especially in the case of the press, its just easier that way.

    Julio, I also agree with you about rationing. Now they are already phasing out certain products, I think coffee and maybe one or two other things. They are doing it slowly. This is very dangerous because for most people they will not be able to afford to buy these products without access to hard currency. They are barely able to produce and distribute enough food to feed everyone as it is. This is why, I think Cuba is no longer even truly socialist, because now you have people with access to tourist dollars and money from abroad accumulating more and having greater access to goods and services than the average working Cuban. To get rid of the libreta now, without fixing the economy, getting rid of dual currency and completely reorganizing how food is grown and distributed is a mistake.

    And Julio, I would add capitalism to that list. I think those in power in Cuba would shift to a capitalist model (maybe more like state run capitalism like they have in China) before giving up control. They are not married to any ideology, only to their own power and control.

  13. Julio:
    I’ll be willing to entertain the idea that they started with a “good intention” and I would be willing to consider that along the way what these people wer originally came to the surface.
    The problem for all of us is that they believed in their greatness & lofty ideals;
    raul’s samenity towards intelectual communism married to guevara’s pseudo self serving lie of idealism and half baked knowledge of the communist versions of the time made the rest possible.
    Ther concevied superiority, their own ego and the intoxication ofpower absolute did the rest.
    This people is no different than us but in one thing … their hypocresy, their arrogance and their ego … other than that … they put their pants the same way we do …
    I wonder if they realize the meaning of the calling others oposing them gusanos …
    They day they die … the gusanos will take care of them … eventually the regimes ilustrious members will be gusano guano … so I belive it to be the highes cumpliment … gusanos for office !!!

  14. I agree with you Albert on 103
    they are doing this changes and the other changes and the next changes because they know they can not sustain themselves in power if they don’t so the whole question is

    All they really wanted was to be in power!

    Is not about communism or socialism, slavery or whatever they want to call what they have. It’s just plain and simple “Honey of Power”

  15. Julio & Liam:
    At the risk of sounding stupid … I realy look forward to your comments.
    The dictatorships I know … function very similar to each other, control, control & control.
    Their problems is time and their small failures that keep on coming back in different forms.
    Their inner circle get smaller w/age and their paranoia multiplies.
    The older they get in that circle the more they lose in numbers, the newer the blood in the inre circle the more paranoia rules.
    The demise of the regime will be their own implotion, there is no one to replace the original format, the newcomers are not as savy or well tought since the secrets of oppresion can not be passed along without risk.
    This is a situation deteriorating rapidly; raul does not have the carisma nor the capabilities to handle it.
    He can be a good theorician of communism but not a flexible practitioner.
    His image unlike that of his elder is not of cult but of fear.
    So the time is near … the regime is unable (like the russians and others)to change to fit the time.
    Its over & they know it …

  16. re #85 Machetera

    You point out a dilemma I have heard from others — essentially this: Yoani’s is the most famous blog, more people read her than any other blog, people turn to her for information, so she should present a broader range of information, representing more of what is happening in Cuba.

    I would respectfully disagree. While she has a responsibility to be honest, one person cannot and should never try to, represent a whole people. Yoani can only write from her own point of view. Other people need to represent their own views.

    And Yoani is supporting this with the Blogger Academy and her work around the country to get more people blogging.

    The danger of setting Yoani up as, “The Voice of Cuba” is creating in her exactly what is wrong with a country like Cuba… the idea of a “single voice” able to speak for all.

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