Havana’s San Rafael Blvd: Between a Nightmare and a Miracle 

Photo Feature by Esther Zoza

The San Rafael pedestrian street.

HAVANA TIMES – San Rafael Boulevard is one of Havana’s busiest avenues. It is finally undergoing major repair works! Stores, markets, new galleries, cafes, all surprise passers-by who venture down this main street, dodging builders and piles of rubble here and there.

The streets that make up this boulevard are like stamps in many city residents’ memories, which they jealously treasure. My generation grew up visiting Cinecito, and the majestic movie theaters Rex and Duplex, with their regal mirrors and furniture.  It’s hopeful to think that children today will be able to enjoy watching cartoons in a place full of so many happy memories for their parents and grandparents; the Duplex and Rex movie theaters will have to wait a little longer, who knows they might open their doors one day as a beautiful art complex.

It is no wonder that Havana residents who are used to watching their city fall into ruin year after year, wondering without the words: how long will these new repair works last? 

Santa Clara and Cienfuegos, considered to be the cleanest and best conserved in terms of urban landscape, have managed to keep their respective boulevards among some of the most attractive in the country. I have walked down their streets myself and I felt like I was being transported to another dimension. Are locals in these provinces more disciplined and more refined than people from Havana? Are their leaders more competent and make more effective use of their resources?

If there was one thing I was able to verify, it was that both locals in Cienfuegos and Santa Clara have a boundless sense of belonging and love for their city. Nobody would think of throwing a glass, a soft drink or beer can onto its streets, much less lean against a wall and leave the dirty mark of their shoe behind. It goes without saying that their garbage sits in dumpsters and garbage cans. Do residents here come from a nearby galaxy and have they colonized the center of our country?  

We can only hope that a miracle takes place for Havana residents, who are moving further and further away from the center, so they can finally understand that the City of Havana isn’t a pig-sty, that it deserves the respect of every Cuban who walks down its historic streets every day. Preserving it for future generations is not only the government’s responsibility, it is up to each and every one of us. 

(Click on an image to display the gallery.)

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Esther Zoza

I was born in the 60s. I love my country and its simple and sacrificed people. I like the arts, particularly literature. In music I enjoy traditional and contemporary trova, also opera and instrumental music. I respect all religions. I like esoteric and mystical subjects; I also enjoy the enigmas of the universe. I believe above all things in God. I am persistent and disciplined to meet my goals. I like the countryside. I live near the sea. I believe in relationships and love in all its manifestations.

7 thoughts on “Havana’s San Rafael Blvd: Between a Nightmare and a Miracle 

  • This blog about Havana’s San Rafael Blvd: Between a
    Nightmare and a Miracle  has helped me a lot, is very well written.

  • Any endeavor to repair and clean up in Cuba is welcome however belated. Even when the reparation is complete in San Rafael street, the problem of sameness will remain. By that I refer to the lack of variation in products being sold by the various GAESA owned and directed shops.
    As for Cuba’s beaches, Brad is correct in saying that there are some elite beaches in Cuba. But, compare them with those so-called playas and campgrounds that the Castro’s designated for use by Cubans not tourists. Garbage lying literally in heaps and breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Tourists as evident from Kevin Corcorans contribution, don’t even know where they are, let alone visit them.
    One set of conditions for tourists – and who cares about the Cubans – they don’t have choice.

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