Leaving the Building Repairs Half-finished

Irina Echarry

HAVANA TIMES — Ana Rivero is demanding an answer: “The leaks haven’t been fixed. The ceilings are caving in the apartments on the upper floors.”

Meanwhile another neighbor, Mary Coche, said that the paint used on the facade was off very poor quality and is already peeling.

No, I’m not talking about my building in Havana. I’m referring to Block 3 of Pinto Salinas in the El Recreo Parish in Venezuela.

An article entitled “They Left the Building Repairs Half-Finished” came out in the newspaper Ultimas Noticias. I saw it by chance in an edition that is just over a year old, but I could immediately identify with it.

I’ve already talked here about the water leaks that my building here on the outskirts of Havana has suffered for years, as well as when the crew that came to repair the problem.

What I haven’t said is that the waterproofing done to the roof wasn’t properly applied and now water is getting into all the apartments on the higher floors. My unit had been the one that was most affected, but now there are others in worse shape.

We know that when the rains come, the weather stripping they put on the roof quickly begins to deteriorate. Now the situation is almost back to the way it was before the repairs.

We also had to pay — dearly — for the paint that was put on the building’s facade. However, that same paint is already peeling since I’m sure it’s of poor quality.

What isn’t going to be paid for is the roof, at least according to the people at the Housing Department, but so far we haven’t succeeded getting someone responsible to ensure us that the work will be re-done and properly carried out.

The Venezuelan newspaper article to which I was referring at the beginning has an important detail: the residents requested a citizens’ assembly with Jacqueline Faria, the then head of government of the Capital District.

I don’t know if that meeting ever took place. What I do know is that they can demand it and also publish the petition in the newspaper.

In our case, we made a proposal at the Feedback Assembly with our local delegate (who was already aware, the proposal was only a formality) but we’re still waiting for action. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Fortunately — for our tranquility and our protection from the elements — this year it has barely rained. But then the rainy season is now upon us.

Reading old newspapers is exciting, even if they’re not from the country where you live. Here, for example, I learned a new word: “chucuta” (half-finished) – which unfortunately has a nice ring.


Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

7 thoughts on “Leaving the Building Repairs Half-finished

  • Your cooperative idea is a day late and a dollar short for the poor man killed in a building collapse in Marianao yesterday afternoon (http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=70448). That’s the problem with the “Battle of Ideas”. Nothing ever gets done.

  • And to another comment from a very good friend, no — I’m no suggesting that everyone has to come up with broad-brush solutions to everyday problems (their “ism of choice”) — though Mitt-style Rebuplican-ISM is precisely the logical conclusion of the author’s manner of complaining — i.e. government is inefficient so let the private sector do the heavy lifting.

    Alternatively, people can begin to look at creative solutions (resident-management, housing cooperatives, transparent budgeting, resident sign-off on Housing Authority work…), NOT more of this effectively conservative letting off of steam (and if you follow that author, it’s way more than a “little bit of venting” Bro Mo).

    Cooperatives have been given the yellow light, that should be availed upon. No unproductive letting off steam as mush as the of planting seeds

    ‘ Don’t curse the darkness without lighting the candle

  • Another interesting twist regarding the taking away of the powers of the elected Mr Ledezma and giving it to the unelected Ms Faría is about Ken Livingstone, the president of the British Venezuela Solidarity Campaign. Mr Livingstone became famous as leader of the Greater London Council, which was abolished by the government of the Conservative Margaret Thatcher robbing London as a whole of an elected body running it.
    From such a wronged local leader you would have expected support for and solidarity with Mr Ledezma after the government led by Hugo Chavez disrespected the electoral choice of the people of the capital of Venezuela. Not, at all, Mr Livingstone is an ardent supporter of Mr Chavez thereby betraying the principle of local democracy, he once claimed to represent.
    When in 2005 The Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes was killed by a London police officer Mr Livingstone fully supported the cover up by Sir Ian Blair, head of policing in London, when Mr Livingstone was then the mayor.
    Why no Latin America solidarity group, such as the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, has barred Mr Livingstone from attending any of their meetings, is a mystery to me. I am, however, pleased that Mr Livingstone was not re-elected mayor of London three weeks ago.

  • According to Wikipedia:

    Jacqueline Faría is a Venezuelan politician. She is the Head of Government of the Venezuelan Capital District (since April 2009). She was previously the head of the state mobile phone company Movilnet[3] Minister of Environment and Natural Resources (2005–2007), and head of Caracas’ water company, Hidrocapital.[1] She is a hydraulic civil engineer by profession.[4]

    After the election of Antonio Ledezma as Metropolitan Mayor of Caracas, the Venezuelan National Assembly passed a Capital District Law on April 30, 2009 that transferred most functions, funding, and personnel to the control of Jacqueline Faría, an official directly appointed by Hugo Chavez. A legal challenge was filed and a request was filed with the National Electoral Council to hold a referendum, but these did not stop the transfer. Opponents of Chavez described the move as a deliberate negation of the popular vote, while supporters described the political and budgetary reorganization as an “act of justice” for Libertador Bolivarian Municipality, the largest and poorest of the five municipalities making up Caracas.[5]

    In 2009 Faría was also for a time President of the state telephone company CANTV.[

  • I would be more specific Moses. It is not some abstract notion of “life” that makes living crappy in Cuba. It’s a 50 year blockade combined with failed responses to that assault.

    The problem is that unless people direct their “venting a little bit” at how to come up with effective responses, all they’re going to do is justify the blockade that created the whole mess in the first place.

    Also — though not that it matters, only because you keep asking, brother Moses — if you want to find out what country I’m in, just look for the one that’s 21 places BELOW Cuba on the UN Development Index.

    Have a good one

  • Paul, that’s cruel. It is easy for you to be annoyed with the constant complaints Cubans seem to make. I don’t know where you live, but I’ll bet that you don’t worry about your building falling down on you. I bet your monthly salary is greater than the cost of a pair of pants. I will go out on a limb and say that the internet you are using to read this is not connected to your dial-up phone line. C’mon dude, cut them some slack. Life in Cuba is crappy enough without having guys like you dump on ’em for venting a little bit.

  • How absolutely tiresome…

    Hell, and I used to think the constant boasting by officialist cheerleaders about bumper potato crops in Sancti Spiritus was fatiguing. But no, this constant negativity of the whining “progressives” is even worse.

    Ok, ok, we get it Irina (for the millionth time). They have leaky ceilings in Havana…and now in Venezuela.

    What is your alternative?

    “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”

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