Rafael Ferro Salas
PINAR DEL RIO, Cuba - August (www.cubanet.org) The majority of people
were excited when they heard the news. After many years this city would
have a civic plaza. Every province in Cuba has one. Throughout the world
civic plazas are places where important events take place and are
celebrated. Political, cultural and civic events occur there. In time a
plaza becomes a mirror of each town.
It's certain that many people were happy when they saw the movement of
construction equipment on the selected site two kilometers from the
city. The Hermanos Cruz neighborhood where I live was the designated
district. I recall it occurred to someone to bring royal palms and
arrange them as decorations. They were huge palm trees dug up at the
roots from their original soil, which required a hard and absurd move to
plant them there.
At the end of the day, the plaza was another deception for the
inhabitants of Pinar del Río. It was never finished and in time it
remained as a provisional plaza, designated thus by the authorities.
From night to day it's become a patch of ground of noise and street
fights, a center of alcoholic orgies, unlawful games and all manner of
disturbances of public order. Many neighbors have chosen to move from
the zone. Face with a lack of motels, couples of lovers desiring to have
sex have become accustomed to frequent the place and carry our their
carnal intentions while hidden among the surrounding trees.
Street vendors and speculators immersed in the black market offer their
merchandise there. Drugs are sold, there's sex for sale and beverages of
dubious brands. The dreamed of plaza has become a den of iniquity of the
It's the accursed patch of ground of the community. Pedestrians avoid
it. In the air each night, accompanied by racket, the murmur of revenge
fights is breathed and the slash of the knife or machete flutters, ready
to attack the chosen target.
What's never lacking is the presence of the police in the provisional
plaza. Every day those in uniform show off their skill for the clubbing
and blows against those involved in any altercation, sale or suspicious
business. Searches are now a routine thing.
When a musical group for dancing is presented in the plaza, the
neighbors breathe in a portent of the racket and know they're condemned
to lose sleep until morning comes. Some have decided to put up bars on
their homes to prevent greater harm.
It even appears the plaza wants to speak to us when the afternoon
arrives. Its two sad and dying royal palms are the constant warning of
the announced curse.