The last social experiment of the Government of Cuba
In the province of Ciego de Ávila a few days ago the program of construction of agricultural communities in old teaching centers entered its final phase. Everything started from an experience lived in the special municipality Isla de la Juventud, where it was decided to close in 2009 the few existing schools in the field to start this government program. After a remodeling process the old ships were converted into homes for peasants, who would also have at their disposal lots of land surrounding the new communities. This, at least in theory, would boost the agroindustrial development of the insular territory and allow self-supply to the island of food products with local labor.
School in the countryside, converted into housing for farmers. Photo: CiberCuba
For this, as I was told on several occasions by a professor at the Pinera Jesús Montané Oropesa university, no sociocultural study was taken into account to allow the new spaces to be conceived according to the basic needs of the peasant. I remember that in my academic training I was commenting on what it meant to put these families to live in the aforementioned conditions, breaking their habits of life and forcing them to transpose into the new environment every custom acquired in a totally different context.
Schools in the countryside, converted into homes. Photo: CiberCuba
However, the indications and recommendations made by academics to the pineras authorities, responsible for conceiving, promoting and transforming the Local Development Program, seems that they have not been included in any act or report, because today new sites are being conceived in order to transform them into homes for men and women of rural origin.
New environment for the Cuban peasantry. Photo: CiberCuba
According to Granma, citing engineer Wilver Bringas Fernández, "the transformation of these dilapidated buildings obeys more to the raising of the standard of living of the peasant families than to the need of men and women who work in the fields", which The same conception is a total lack of coherence and a contradiction, taking into account that these apartments are granted exclusively to those people who are willing to work in agriculture or livestock.
Schools in the countryside, converted into houses for peasants. Photo: CiberCuba
It should be noted that the Cuban peasant will feel living in a kind of dovecote, overcrowded and without privacy, because he will have neighbors too close so that his voice can be heard from side to side. Likewise, these people, accustomed to having their animals close and practically free, will want to repeat the experience in their new environment, and therefore the environment can become unhygienic and chaotic.
Nor would the principle of raising the standard of living of peasants be much defended if experience has so far given a large dose of headaches especially when they must move to the cities. Remember that these old schools are located in remote areas, therefore, we must also create a transport infrastructure that allows them not to live far from the world. Here the difficulty is that, if there is currently no efficient response for transportation, when more people and routes are added to the current ones, far from improving, a difficult environment could be generated for all.
The same happens with the conception of other spaces such as school, health center, grocery store, recreation area, pharmacy, etc. I had the opportunity to meet different communities where they had been conceived, but they did not work or did not respond to the demands of their inhabitants. Repeating the experience would be the worst gift that could be given to the peasant who comes to his new home expecting one thing and receiving another. That is why the local authorities must be prepared for any contingency and not delay the answers. According to the director Yaíma Pardo in his documentary "Pinero, pinero", one of these communities took days without power to raise the water to the central tank of the building and its neighbors did not know when the government would give solution to their demand.
Finally, I am struck by the design and structure of the spaces that are being delivered. We are talking about prefabricated buildings conceived as schools in the 70s and that have been abandoned for years. The intervention requires replacing the entire electrical and plumbing infrastructure, fixing filtering problems, changing windows, building walls, building stairs ... however, what is shown to the world today differs completely from a pleasant place to live. According to images published on his Facebook profile by user Oliver Carralero, we can see the Micaela Bastidas Community, formerly a Polytechnic of Agronomy, which looks like a Dantesque site where its inhabitants must feel condemned to suffer every day that dawns due to the lack of a pleasant environment for any human being.
What the photographs show is a total contrast of word and deed, where those who live inside those buildings must surely turn each day into a miracle so as not to cross the line of madness, or simply alienate themselves from the space they have to inhabit to settle with a bucolic environment that does not exceed your expectations. Those who live today under these conditions I am sure they prefer a wooden hut and a guano roof before the prefabricated concrete buildings of the Soviet era, which resemble prisons in the Latin American third world more than a modern construction of the 21st century.
That is the result of a social experiment carried out by the Cuban government that today is disseminated by each province or municipality of the archipelago. A scenario where I am sure none of the authorities of the country would want to live, even if it was free. These are the houses that today are given to the peasant of Cuba to improve their living conditions and although it seems an invented fantasy, entire families already inhabit those places without hope that the favorable change will touch their doors.
Opinion article: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of its author and do not necessarily represent the point of view of CiberCuba.