All illusions of love, trust and dedication to a relationship flew out the window for Mayda Torres in 1992, when she found out she was HIV-positive while undergoing routine exams to start a new job.
Standing in line for a concert at the Centro Cultural Fábrica de Arte, a cultural centre in the Cuban capital, Alexis Cruz anxiously checks his billfold, where he has the price of the ticket – 50 Cuban pesos (two dollars) - and three CUCs (equivalent to one dollar each) to buy something to drink.
The lack of markets to supply raw materials for Cuba’s new private sector, along with the poverty in isolated rural communities, is fuelling the poaching of endangered species of flora and fauna.
The road to Guanímar, a fishing village on the southern coast of Cuba, is as narrow as the future of its 252 inhabitants, who don’t want to abandon the area despite its vulnerability to hurricanes, storm surges and flooding.
Near the close of the harvest , local people in the Cuban municipality of San Juan y Martínez, which boasts the finest tobacco plantations in the world, are seeing their hopes of a plentiful season dashed by unexpected winter rains.
The stench hits as you walk through the door of one of the pleasant houses along the Quibú river in the Cuban capital’s Náutico neighbourhood. “The garbage piles up, it stinks, and there are even rats,” said María Angélica Suárez, a local resident who is tired of living this way.
Cuba’s state education monopoly is increasingly sharing space with private operators, including churches and teachers working as tutors, which are filling in gaps and providing knowledge that has become necessary as a result of the country’s economic reforms, such as business management courses.
Nature reserves act as a safe deposit box for biodiversity and contribute to adaptation to climate change. But in a country like Cuba, plagued by a chronic economic crisis, efforts to increase the number of protected areas go largely unnoticed.
The 18 communities in Cuba’s Ciénaga de Zapata, the largest wetlands in the Caribbean, have long survived on the abundant local hunting and fishing and by producing charcoal. But that is no longer possible, due to climate change.
The meagre budgets of Cuban families are put to the test when one of the members is diagnosed with cancer. Although treatment is free of cost, only extended networks of support help alleviate the economic impact of the disease, which is now the number one cause of death.
In the 1960s, the Cuban government declared that storage of fresh water for times of drought or hurricanes was a matter of national security, and it began to dam up the country’s rivers. But that policy has claimed an unforeseen victim: mangroves.
You can’t buy it in a store or get it in Cuba’s public health clinics. But young men who frequent gyms know who sells it and secretly inject themselves with “peanut oil,” as people in this country refer to synthol and other products that increase muscle mass.
You can’t buy it in a store or get it in Cuba’s public health clinics. But young men who frequent gyms know who sells it and secretly inject themselves with “peanut oil,” as people in this country refer to synthol and other products that increase muscle mass. The trend of injecting different substances to obtain huge muscles almost instantaneously seems to have taken root here. And it has already claimed victims.
It is unusual to see Cuban sports legends in public service announcements. However, a handful of champions and rising young stars are wearing messages or appearing in TV spots against violence among men or toward women.
In nearly all of Latin America, illegal abortion is a serious public health problem. But in Cuba, where abortion is legal, it is being overused by teenagers.