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The Sewers of Surgidero

The Sewers of Surgidero / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on April 3, 2015

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 2 April 2015 — “Here the earth sinks
to enter the sea,” says a tanned Peasant, whose face is like a map of
bays and marches. On the south coast of Mayabeque, there is a piece of
land that wants to transcend its fate as a low area and where every year
the waters gain a bit in the battle for firm land. Despite its slow
disappearance under the tide, Surgidero de Batabanó is also a site
appreciated for its abundance of shrimp, lobster and sponges.

“This town has the cheapest seafood in the whole western region,” boasts
a man who claims to have a degree in the technical exploitation of
maritime transport, in the far off Soviet Union. His degree is from
those years when the USSR welcomed Cuban students to its universities to
develop an army of builders of the future. Now, the man and his family
build illegal cages to hunt crustaceans and sell them on the black market.

On both sides of Surgidero’s main street there is an open channel that
flows with sewage toward the muddy Gulf of Batabanó. There everything is
all mixed together: salt and filth, foam and debris. As the area is
barely fifteen feet above the level of the sea, the ditches that pass in
front of the houses are always full and floating on the surface is
everything that fails to flow along the weak slope.

Any cynical editor of tourist postcards could draw a parallel with
Venice, but the neighbors believe it would be better to build a sewer

Any cynical editor of tourists postcards could draw parallels with
Venice, but the neighbors believe it would be better to build a sewer.
Each house has its own bridge to cross the stinking gutter, but when it
rains it all overflows and there are days when the sewage, instead of
flowing, seems to grow, reaching out to the living room of every home.

The inhabitants of the village have never gotten used to this situation,
dating from when the streets were laid out and they were promised the
drainage ditch would be temporary. Quite the contrary, the issue is no
longer raised at meetings of the People’s Power and many are the
unanswered letters describing the issue. They expose the dangers to
health, landscape and tourists and even the shame of the villagers who
don’t know how to explain such a stench to their visitors.

“These waters will end up swallowing us one day,” predicts a neighbor,
who has seen how the sea and apathy will win the match against Surgidero
de Batabanó.

Source: The Sewers of Surgidero / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar |
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