[Marxism] Cuban villages empty in anticipation of Wilma's wrath

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat Oct 22 04:33:38 MDT 2005

It's a few moments before 6:30 AM Saturday morning. I kind of wish
it was always like this: cool and quiet and no rain at all here in
Cuba's capital city, in the Vedado district. I haven't has the air
conditioner on, and with open windows there's a light and pleasant
breeze floating from my window to my bedroom door. OK, I know quite
well the hurricane WILL come, I guess tomorrow or perhaps early on
Monday. But for the moment, it isn't here in the capital city. The
hurricane here dominates most peoples' converstions and activities.

After I finish the morning shift here, I'll go for a walk and get a
sense of what the streets look and feel like. This is an excellent
report. There was no reason for the phrase "state-run" preceding the
term "newscasts", but otherwise it's really a fine report. After all,
would a U.S. newscast about Florida have said "privately-owned" news
broadcasts? Of course not! It's taken for granted to such an extent
that it's never mentioned. In Cuba, radio and television and printed
news media are public resources and they are directed politically by
the revolutionary government. It has been this way for well over 45
years, and there's no reason to call them "state-run" because every
reader either knows or assumes that. In the United States the private
ownership of the means of information is considered the norm, or 
better the "default setting", while public media is considered the
exception. In Cuba, public media is the default setting and the few
alternatives which exist, by NGOs like the MLK center, or the Roman
Catholic Church, are considered the exception, though they also exist.

The two countries are not, and shouldn't be thought of as identical.
The blockade is always a factor, including in the use of such loaded
phrases as "state-run" media. I know I'm going on and on about this,
but just wanted to make the point. Otherwise, as I said at the start,
this is a good report on the Cuban hurricane preparations as a whole.

Walter Lippmann, CubaNews



Cuban villages empty in anticipation of Wilma's wrath

Ghost town all that's left in Playa del Cajío

By Ruth Morris 
Havana Bureau

October 22, 2005

PLAYA DEL CAJíO -- Chessboards came out and children played pick-up
soccer, as Cuban evacuees settled in for the restless wait ahead of
Hurricane Wilma.

At last count Friday, Cuban authorities said they had evacuated more
than 367,000 residents in anticipation of the mammoth storm system.
The government maintained high alerts over the two western provinces
of Havana and Pinar del Río, and over the southern Isle of Youth,
already awash in rain.

State-run newscasts reported national flights were grounded. Schools
were closed for a second straight day, and strong winds began to whip
through the tobacco-growing Pinar del Río region to the west.

"We're not tough guys, we're just saturated," said Angel Lambert, a
member of a four-man civil defense team that guarded Playa del Cajío,
now a ghost town in Havana province, with the help of six stray dogs.
Like other coastal communities, Cajío was evacuated to the last

As if to demonstrate nature's potential, the scraggly fishing village
is made up of multi-colored shacks built from the mismatched plywood
of houses destroyed during earlier storms.

Cajío's residents have insisted the town's namesake, an Indian,
protected them from the worst weather. As long as his statue faces
the sea, Lambert said, the town has persevered and rebuilt.

But a month ago, a bolt of lighting brought the statue down.

"They say the lightening bolt was meant for someone else, and he took
it instead," said Alberto Perez, another watchman. "And some say it
was because something bad is going to happen," he shrugged.

In nearby shelters, evacuees watched fuzzy television images of
weather forecasts and snacked on oranges and bread. Most Cuban
evacuees make their way to friends' homes, but others rely on
makeshift shelters converted from boarding schools.

As Wilma strolled northward, Cuban meteorologists turned their
attention to the island's northwestern shore and warned that the
storm might not pass until Monday. They reiterated calls for
residents to avoid crossing rivers and to be alert to mudslides.

The government even asked farmers to verify they have several days of
medicine on hand for cattle and goats that have been moved to high

"The reservoirs are almost at their limit, and on top of that, it
could rain for many more days," said Barbara Sulueta, director of a
shelter just outside Caimito, near Havana. Nestled in a
citrus-growing region, she said outlying communities could lose some
of their crops if heavy winds also come through.

Nine-months pregnant, Maria Caridad Cordoví, said she badly needed
for Wilma to be over.

"I could have the baby today or tomorrow," she said. "But it's safer
here than in our house. The roof is made of thatch, and the storm
could easily blow it away."

Cuban shelters are staffed with doctors and nurses, and an attending
physician said a hospital three miles away could receive Cordoví if
she goes into labor.

Ruth Morris can be reached at alisonrmorris at aol.com.

Copyright © 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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