She gets up every day at five in the morning, grabs her backpack and goes out to fight the different types of transport that can take her to her work place: the city of Caimito. Because there are only four doctors she has duty every two days—unpaid—and then returns to her house because the family medical practice they assigned her to has no door.
Even though they aren’t included among her patients, she takes care of the inhabitants of the Llega y Pon* shanty town in the neighborhood. In this area the work is more difficult, no one is registered and so they don’t exist: the children don’t have milk, the old people don’t have a special diet, electric light is a golden dream and hygiene is a bad word. She has tried to take action but always runs up against the wall of the bureaucracy: they have to go back to their place of origin, even the newborns, which in this case means the place of origin of the mother.
It’s one of the saddest stories I’ve heard, always when people talk to me of birth and primary care the dark shanty towns come into my head. Growing up surrounded by the major cities and seeming to be, for the government, unavoidable. Speaking on the subject a doctor friend told me that ten children without milk were not a flag to call into question the Cuban health services. But to me, neither a doctor nor a politician, I wonder how can a State that declares itself Socialist allow itself the luxury that children like that exist?
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.