Ernesto Carralero Burgos

Habana-1HAVANA TIMES — The anniversary of the establishment of the settlement of San Cristobal de La Habana was celebrated a few days ago. I believe that, like birthdays and other commemorative events that celebrate the passage of time, such anniversaries are a way of expressing gratitude for still being alive.

As one walks around the Cuban capital, one notices that the city is in a rather deplorable state. With the exceptions of those areas (mostly destined to tourism) that are favored by the work of the Office of the Havana City Historian, the rest of the city suffers from decades of general neglect.

From afar, it resembles a city torn apart by a war or devastated by one of nature’s destructive forces.

Habana-3The most regrettable thing is that there are people living in those ruined buildings – many because of the well-known housing shortage and others simply because they were born and raised in neighborhoods they don’t want to leave.

Lacking their own resources and State aid, these people find it impossible to repair the homes they live in. Though some manage to save up some money to overcome very basic problems, the truth is that it is impossible to take on such repairs on their measly salaries.

I have often heard people say things like: “I pray to god a hurricane never hits Havana.” The fact this has never happened is a kind of blessing, I believe.

Habana-2All the while, money is spent to repair city landmarks such as the Capitolio building. Despite the fact this is a historical monument, I believe I agree with Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei’s gesture of breaking Neolithic ceramics as part of a performance. When hundreds of lives are destroyed every instant, nothing is sacred.

Why should we prioritize the Capitolio over the rest of the city?

Apparently, when the repairs are done, the National People’s Power Assembly (Parliament) will be relocated to the facilities there. We can only hope that, if Havana manages to survive till then, our elected deputies, then much closer to the reality of the city, will be moved by what they see around them and decide to do something for a city that was among Latin America’s most beautiful for a very long time.


Ernesto Carralero

Ernesto Carralero: I'm 18, I live in Havana and I firmly believe in the progress of Cuba. I do not understand progress as returning to the past, but being realistic and taking into account our characteristics, evolve into a much more inclusive country with more opportunities than we have today.

14 thoughts on “Will Havana Survive?

  • If Castro is not to blame then who is? Who is to blame from the dilapidated state of Havana? Who is responsible for the disastrous state of Cuban agriculture? Why does Cuba have such diffculty raising cattle (There are less head of cattle today than in 1959)

  • What Fidel inherited was a prosperous, dynamic and corrupt Cuba, desperately demanding democracy and freedom from the dictator Batista.

    After 55 years, Cuba is an impoverished, moribund, and corrupt island, with no democracy, no freedom, and a dictator named Castro.

  • Prague is lovely, but it was starting to show some decay before the Communists were given the boot. The Czech government spent money on maintaining the old town of their capital city. Fidel ignored Havana. Budapest is of course, two cities. The old city Buda is nice, while the industrial Pest is a depressing Stalinist suburb.

    The fact is, infrastructure throughout Cuba, but especially in Havana, has been neglected. Electrical, water and sewage systems are near collapse. 50% of all fresh water pumped in Havana fails to arrive at the taps and is lost in leaks. Buildings are collapsing weekly, and very few ever get repaired.

    The lack of any mortgage market, and unclear property title laws, both conditions which were direct consequences of the policies and actions of the Cuban Revolution, are responsible for the decay of so many Cuban buildings. The inefficient and corrupt centrally planned socialist economic system ensure that very little building materials needed to repair building actually get to those who need them.

    The US embargo has nothing to do with it. Cuba produces their own cement, limestone and asphalt. The could have maintain everything, but have instead let the accumulated wealth of the nation wither and die.

  • Anyone with absolute control of a nation for 56 years is totally responsible for its conditon. This is not “right wing” thinking so much as it is just common sense. In the American Revolution Thomas Paine wrote a rationale for breaking away of America’s past from British rule. It was called “Common Sense”. The same logic applies at this moment in history for Cuba. A nation cannot be controlled from the graves of the past. Thomas Jefferson proclaimed “The earth belongs to the living.” This also is applicable for Cuba today. Enough already with “the revolution”, Che and all of that crap. Look at the crumblling cities, the people fleeing by the thousands to other lands. It is time for change now.

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