With high and low seasons, this is how profuse, as can be seen in the picture, the last of the dumps that were born in the area has become.
With high and low seasons, this is how profuse, as can be seen in the image, the last of the rubbish dumps that were born in the area have become.

The children came first; the kites soaring through the sky; the "look here, boys, hands on your hips, one, two, one, two"; the endurance races on the track; the pelota, volleyball, and football classes; the thousand inventions of Professor Jesús to mend the basketball baskets; the "don't go fast, Marquito, today is only your second try on that bike...”

But now it seems that she is the monarch, worthy even of being called Mrs. Trash. And the little ones have to watch where they walk. The debris, like volcanic lava, advances, rendering the land useless in its path. It would seem that it is the sea taking back what was once its own and what man has taken away from it. But no, as we told you, reader, the children got there first.

The sports ground next to the Jesús Argüelles Hidalgo semi-boarding school, in this city, has always had to deal with dead animals and drifting entrails that someone surreptitiously throws, with the occasional pile of dirt "because there is nowhere to dump it", they say, but, as we heard in the neighborhood, today it is going through one of its worst moments.


As if such a history was not enough, as well as that of "I graze here because I live nearby", of the bottle of alcohol that is found on one of its corners every day, of the consumption of other substances complicit in the night that more than one neighbor confirms... as if that were not enough, last year a girl was raped there, and the dark esplanade was "formally" a dangerous place.

In the reports to the delegates, the subject comes up again and again, and perhaps that is why that elderly man with difficulty walking took a few meters and turned it into a vegetable garden. Legal or not, that plot of land was one of the most hopeful things to happen to the city's countryside in a long time, after the construction of the Beisbolito and the Etecsa tower. Although nothing beats rejoicing at the recurrence of children and families, even today it is not known whether this is good news or a cause for concern.

In addition to the theft of the perimeter fence (they say it was used to make nails) and its rafters, in a clear increase in the lack of protection, a new rubbish dump was added months ago, and then there were three. The difference with the "newcomer" is that this one, located facing José Mastrapa Street, came "with permission", or well, something like that.

Omar Cobas Pérez, president of Consejo Popular 4 and delegate of Circunscripción 117, one of those close to the site, was director of "Argüelles" in 2022 when a rubbish dump emerged on the same pavement as the aforementioned spot. "I met with municipal directors of Comunales and they told me about the need to build a dump site (a deposit for the collection of solid waste) in that corner, within the sports area.

"They assured me that they would collect the waste and the dust that their workers dumped as a result of sweeping the streets every week. But the investment that went into that idea was never executed and the plans got out of control because people started to dump their rubbish, then the cart drivers..."

Unlike the resources, the news did spread and a lapidary response began to sound if anyone was asked: "Here it is authorized."

The highest representatives of the community found out about this decision when the stinking pile began to grow. "Nobody consulted us, it was a unilateral measure that generated a lot of indiscipline and still does," says Alfredo Pérez González, delegate of District 116, to which these properties belong. "I immediately warned that it was illegal and incorrect. I worked at Citma and I know that the air blows for the school; it affects hygiene, among other reasons, because it is close to the school canteen."

Alfredo Pérez González

Behind such risky steps, a reality is pressing the instability of solid waste collection. Pérez González says, for example, that in his area there are sites with debts that are more than six months old.

Grisel Alonso Guerrero, director of Community Services in the province, regrets that someone from her union thought that there, where the children play, there could be a dump, and reports that she knows about the situation on this side of the city. "In our planning, it is foreseen that these neighborhoods will be served by cart drivers and today, out of the 14 needed, we only have two active ones. It is very difficult to take the specialized transport out of its usual functions and bring it to 'Argüelles'. Depending on the possibilities, we have moved the collector to carry out sanitation actions, but it is not always possible."

Grisel Alonso Guerrero

"I have exchanged on occasion with the factors in those neighborhoods and I insist that they contribute by looking for carters who want to support them. Our priority is to increase that workforce and we are about to meet with the Administration Council to re-evaluate the payment system. We urgently need that workforce," he stresses."


The families with students in the semi-boarding school and many other residents, Cobas Pérez illustrates, are very worried because the area is where physical education classes are held and the children, who are unable to perceive danger, could encounter the rubbish and expose themselves to the risk of contracting a disease.

For this reason, the special volleyball teacher can hardly go to the court anymore, "if the ball goes to the girls there, I have no way to clean their hands." And the football coach sees how his boys not only have to kick the ball but also the dirty nylon that gets everywhere.

The squad itself is worried about this scenario. Maykel Domínguez Reyes, the school's director, comments on this hygienic risk, and argues that there is another risk that they face frequently and is seen as a matter of course: "The neighbors let animals graze freely, especially horses, and our students are very close to them. Nobody knows what might happen.

But these are certainly not the worst possible occurrences, and the delegates Omar and Alfredo agree. The biggest concern is that the school has a large liquefied gas tank, and in their eagerness to dispose of the rubbish, some villagers have set fire to the batteries, and if a spark is exposed to the fuel...

"I don't know how many times I've been caught in the early hours of the morning here, making sure that the fire doesn't spread; the last time we even called the fire brigade. The Citma, Education, Inder... know about this," remarked Pérez González, with an uneasy look on his face.


"We have met with representatives of the Municipal Directorate of Education and Inder to draw up a strategy for the sports area, but they can't agree among themselves on where each one's responsibility begins and ends," explains Omar Cobas, and this same uncertainty and lack of definition is what 26 found in his inquiries on the matter. Such precious land does not seem to be anyone's competence and, at the same time, it is everyone's business. No one claims ownership, but everyone needs it.

While the "owner" appears, idleness takes over and steals a place of high social value, a place for recreation and learning, for discovering future champions or dreaming of becoming one. The president of People's Council 4 looks at the wide esplanade and regrets the sight, "in such good condition," he mutters. There must be a guard here, a custodian.

"We have called the community to reflect, but there are always the undisciplined and they continue to throw anything here. We also talked to the school management to get them to replace the fence, at least the one closest to their domain, but there have been no definitive solutions."

The director of Community Services in the province speaks of civic responsibility, conscience, of rationality, "it's incredible how quickly it fills up again with waste when we clean it up. We have to be firmer in this confrontation."

Yunier Hornia Cruz was found mowing at the site, he is one of the eight workers who make up the maintenance brigade belonging to Inder that works there. "We are in charge of mowing and collecting the grass. We can't do it with the rubbish dumps. There is a lot of indiscipline, and now and then there is a bad smell because of a dead animal. Even the front of the Beisbolito has been filled with sacks of rubbish."

The movement of sports clubs, especially the "Américo Morales", in the voice of its president, Jorge Molina Ricardo, who also represents the Association of Combatants of the Cuban Revolution (ACRC in Spanish), painfully testifies to the grey canvas that is today this appendage of the semi-internship.

"Journalists, do you know that three baseball categories train there?" he asks with evident concern, and at the same time proclaims the potential that should change the destiny of this place. He tells us of the many forums where he has shared his concern, and of the times he has alerted the 'pyromaniacs' when he sees fire coming out of a corner. "Three of my grandchildren are in those classrooms," he says in farewell, and there is no need to go any further to learn of his award-winning reasons for fighting.

Grisel Alonso Guerrero
Dumping rubbish in the area is a practice that is almost taken for granted in the area.


Where we throw the rubbish also speaks about us. And if we then, through voluntary work, as one of these reporters once saw the egregious teacher Eliselda do, who together with her colleagues picked up what others threw away, we should die of shame. "How our children are going to be running around here...," the teachers were heard to say on that occasion.

According to the headmaster of the school, "We believe that the matter needs an inter-sectoral approach and that we need to agree on how to fence off the area, we can even contribute to the workforce, but it is necessary to meet and make an objective planning, according to the resources of each entity involved." It is a fact that until this group dialogue and definition do not take place, any effort will be a temporary solution. Cleaning up the space and finding a custodian add to the urgencies.

And if anyone is looking for inspiration as to why they should work so hard, all they have to do is go down any of the streets around the sports area. There are plenty of people who remember those exciting women's hockey championships or the matches of the Fabio Di Celmo Children's Football Cup. Perhaps someone will simply say: "That's where I used to play with my dad every day" or "That's where my mum taught me to ride a bike". And that will be enough.