Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

Nov. 14, 1999, Cuba Free Press.

THE "NEIGHBORHOOD," AN INSTITUTION THAT "HAS DISAPPEARED" By Odilia Collazo, for Cuba Free Press (as translated by a volunteer).

HAVANA - The "neighborhood;" this institution so Cuban, so full of charm, solidarity and affection, mostly has disappeared. The continuing betrayals and lack of trust undermined the social structure of a very necessary institution. The neighborhood is necessary for humanity, necessary to the family, indispensable to a healthy society.

The writer's personal experiences today in Cuba confirm that the neighborhood is essential, basic even for human survival.

I have no complaint about the residents of my street, of my neighborhood, and I will explain why. I don't care about their ideals or their religious beliefs. Here there are persons who are activists of the party, of the youth outfit; others are Jehovah's Witnesses, Protestants, Roman Catholics. But I was born and raised here, on this street where I live. I am 49; all those years I have lived here. Some of the parents of the residents here now saw me born. Many of the residents went to school with me; we played and did tricks together on the streets. Their children were friends and "sibling" with my children.

But in the case of my daughter, in her city block there is no solidarity. My daughter suffers the consequences of my job. I am found by the television cameras. There, they mention my name and members of the brigades of rapid response mobilize and attack my daughter and my son. Why? Because they don't live in the same block where they were born. Maybe because they didn't have those friends since childhood. They are "new" people who are not known.

But in my case, there is great solidarity among my neighbors with me. For me, there is no better family than my neighbors. It matters not to them the things of human rights or politics in which I am involved; but they protect me. Also, if I am sick, or have some problem, they don't look at my ideals, they don't look at who I am. Instead, the neighbor looks for my clothes so as to wash them for me; it is not important who I work for. And it is not important what else was happening in my house. She collected the clothes, washed them and later brought them to me.

So the solidarity of my neighbors with me, the 'brotherhood,' has never been lost. When they did not have some medicine needed for their children or for their mother, I never looked to see if it was for the president of the Community Watch Committee or a member of the Rapid Response Brigade. What problems you may have, what problem your grandchild may have, just wait long enough for me to look in my medicine cabinet. If I have it, let's look to see the expiration date. No, it has not expired; grab it and take it with you. Thank God, due to the doctors who work with me and the people in exile who send me medicines, I may even have a needed prescription.

Whoever needs it gets it; I don't look at their religion or their political position. For me they are Cubans first and I help them. I believe I have collected the 'fruits' of neighborliness because they help me also.

Odilia Collazo, for Cuba Free Press.

P.O. Box 652035
Miami, FL 33265-2035
Phone: (305)270 8779 -- Fax: (305)595 1883

Copyright © 1999 - Cuba Free Press, Inc.