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. 

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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.

Esther Zoza has 31 posts and counting. See all posts by Esther Zoza

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.

  • Another thing, Havana was awarded the cleanest city in the world for 10 years in a row by the American Society of Travel agencies or AST, with celebrated its convention in Havana in 1960. I am not that old, only 75 years younger and was 14 years old when the government that transform Cuba in a giant dump field. I am sorry if somebody that do not know the reality of Cuba feel bad. We were not perfect, but not to bad as now.

  • Rancho Luna is a 3 star at best and the beach is average it’s just cheap.
    There are some elite beaches in Cuba.

  • The is the goverment negligence. I remember when crew of men used to pass constantly with a cart, dust pan and a broom sweeping the streets of Havana.

  • I was in Ceinfuegos in April this year and it was spotless. The beach’s get cleaned everyday and the people that live there are all very hard workers! I am going to visit Cienfuegos again and again because the people are so proud of their City!! Cienfuegos is the twin City of Kingston, Ontario!! I live in Kingston, Ontario and we are twinned with Cienfuegos which is too cool. The people are very friendly and I just love the area; so beautiful and the beach’s are just awesome!! Thank-you Rancho Luna for a fantastic vacation!! Many thanks to everybody!! Very special people!! See you all again real soon!!

  • Here in the UK we have quite a few people who drive miles under the cover of darkness so that they can just dump rubbish, we call this filthy habit, fly tipping and these people have no respect for the environment so I do understand the problem that is being experienced in certain areas in Cuba. How do we educate people to respect their surrounding environments? Quite honestly I have no idea, however we must try to get them to change their filthy habits and encourage them to take some pride in their natural surroundings. We have some quite stunning places both in Cuba and the UK so let us encourage people to respect what they have and protect everything that is endangered, we owe this to our children and their children.

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