As has been happening for the last few years, the appearance of the Dengue fever’s first cases once again marks the beginning of its fearsome cycle through the city. They are definitely not being officially reported in the media yet, but the official alarm is reflected in the increase in visits by different agents of the anti-carrier campaign (or “the mosquito people”, as they usually call themselves) and by the medical students bearing surveys (“Have you had cases of fever in this area?”, “If you should have one, go to a doctor’s office immediately.”) Obviously, in principal, these visits are nothing bad. It’s good to maintain control over the focal points and the cases that do arise, in order to avoid an epidemic. However, such a deployment contrasts once again with the permanent lack of hygiene in the city, with the accumulation of water in the potholes and blocked drains in the roads–above all in the most populated neighborhoods–and with the garbage cans and dumpsters almost permanently packed to the point of spilling onto the streets and sidewalks.
Curiously, many of these centers of infection are situated near establishments where food is sold, such as the corner of Jesús Peregrino and Santiago, in Central Havana, where an agricultural market, a sugarcane drink stand, as well as a family doctor’s office, converge. On the opposite corner, Marqués González and Jesús Peregrino, a mere step from another doctor’s office, another pothole filled with sewer water has found a permanent place in the geography of the city.
No less disgusting are the gigantic dumpsters, said to be made in China (just a coincidence!) that accumulate, over days, enormous quantities of scrap and waste, producing delicacies for the rats and roaches.
Nothing, at least nothing that the mosquito boys knock on the door for, creates in the population the illusory idea that–still without hygiene in the city–the good intentions of the authorities are keeping our health safe.
April 14, 2008