Matthew and Oblivion Join Forces Against La Máquina in Guantanamo
Matthew and Oblivion Join Forces Against La Máquina in Guantanamo /
14ymedio, Yunier Reyes
14ymedio, Yunier Reyes, Baracoa, 7 October 2016 – “There is not a single
roof here that the wind didn’t take,” commented Jorge Luis, a villager
of La Máquina, one of the poorest areas of Cuba in the territory of
Maisí, Guantanamo. At roughly 900 feet above sea level, the residents of
the remote place say that since the passing of Hurricane Matthew the
first government aid still hasn’t reached the area.
“We hid in the bathroom of the house,” recalls this farmer who was born
in the easternmost point of the island and says he has never having seen
anything like what happened during Tuesday night. “Everything was
doubled over with the wind and the pressure was so strong that I could
hardly swallow my own saliva,” he explains. “It was more than six hours
that we couldn’t even move,” he recalls with fear.
The locals have always looked enviously at neighboring Baracoa. “They at
least have tourists coming, who leave behind some money, but here nobody
passes. Who is going to be interested in seeing this town where there is
nothing?” asks Jorge Luis’s eldest son, who helps his father farm. The
young man believes that “donations will rain down” on the larger town,
but “from there to here is a long way.”
The dangerous stretch of road linking Cajobabo with La Máquina and Punta
de Maisí is not passable at the moment for cars, but entire families
have dared to make their way along it, struggling to get around the
rocks and chunks of concrete and asphalt that now mark the damaged
road. They go to nearby villages in search of food, on a walk that must
be made in haste.
Jorge Luis made a stretch of the journey on Thursday afternoon with an
empty sack over his shoulder. “I have to get some food because we
already ran out,” he says. At the home of some of his cousins they gave
him some sweet potatoes and a piece of salt pork. “We will be surviving
with this until they begin to distribute food,” he says.
“The coffee is very affected,” says the farmer, and telephone
communications and electrical service are still not working, but the
latter two problems do not seem to worry Jorge Luis very much. “We have
always lived with very little. In my house we can only turn on a light
bulb occasionally because the voltage has always been very low.”
La Máquina’s first sidewalks were poured last year and “they are already
deteriorated because the builders stole some of the materials,”
explained the Guantanameran. With Matthew’s rains the whole place was
turned into a quagmire only navigable in rubber boots. Children travel
on the shoulders of their parents and bicycles can barely advance
through the mud.
In Punta Caleta, the site where Matthew touched down on the island,
“there’s nothing left even to tie a goat to,” the farmer – who also has
relatives in the area – says sarcastically. “Even the trees were
uprooted.” The bridges in the region are also seriously damaged, which
is preventing the arrival of maintenance brigades and food supplies.
Intense rains have damaged the region and the Rio Seco – Dry River – has
belied its name and flooded to the point that the villages in the area
are incommunicado. “The rains failed us, but not now, really, not now,”
reflects Jorge Luis, as he works his way around the obstacles toward the
town of Cajobabo. On both sides of what was once a highway the palms are
pressed flat against the ground as if a giant had passed over them.
Source: Matthew and Oblivion Join Forces Against La Máquina in
Guantanamo / 14ymedio, Yunier Reyes – Translating Cuba –