Paula Henriquez

la-habana-20HAVANA TIMES — Walking through Havana is becoming a less gratifying experience every time I go. I remember when I was a little girl and a teenager how I used to love wondering through its neighborhoods. I was intrigued by its houses, streets, the coming and going of people… It was my city; I loved it with all of its flaws and its virtues.

Today, I’m walking through the city and I recall those memories. I want to feel like I did back then but I can’t. Havana is no longer the same, it’s aged, ugly, destroyed in my eyes, and not just physically… Havana has lost its spirit, its soul.

It’s as if a cloak is covering all of us, because I also watch people walking around like robots, without strength, without desires. Cars move forward like God-fearing creatures along the city’s streets damaged by time and despair. Buildings which continue to stand by God knows what miracle… as if defying the laws of physics which, no matter how long they hold out, are always a sure thing… And on every corner… past lives accumulate in the form of rubbish, which some people pick up and treasure as if they were searching for their own.

Havana is falling; it’s constantly falling apart… And we feel its pain because we live here. The fact that it ages without any relief also pains us, the longed for wish that it would reach the peak of its life with a little bit of hope. I don’t like walking through Havana anymore, now, when I do, I walk hurriedly, as if to get out of there, to escape all of this grief, this despair.

What has my Havana become? Or to put it another way, what did they do to my Havana? The Havana that existed when I was a little girl has gone. Or at least, I can no longer sense it.


Paula Henriquez

Paula Henriquez: Since childhood I have been told I should be careful what I say in public. "Think before you speak, especially in front of others," my mother would say, and it was more of a plea than a scolding. Even today I hear her and I obey her, just that I do not speak, I write. Letters and words are my escape, my exit and daily catharsis, which printed on paper, revive me. And this picture is my refuge.

2 thoughts on “Havana When I Was a Little Girl

  • Over fifty seven long dreary years of Castro ‘socialismo’ has drained the energy and initiative of the Cuban people. In writing of her despair in Havana Times, Paula Henriquez is using her small opportunity for freedom of expression to reflect the real consequences of the political system of power and control being exerted by the Castro regime and its puppets in the Communist Party of Cuba. She is recording reality, the mumbo-jumbo of Marxist rhetoric is no longer effective – Cubans are thinking for themselves. They are realising that all the talk about the supposed benefits of communism was just talk, Cubans want the unfulfilled promises:
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    “of liberty, of respect for individual rights, of freedom of the press and thought, of democracy, of liberty to select their own government.
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    That is what Fidel Castro Ruz offered on March 16th, 1959.
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    Fidel Castro honed the technique of lying to a fine edge. Deception was his forte. He lied about his intentions given above just as he lied on October 23rd 1962 when in a 70 minute (short) speech on television he denied the presence of offensive missiles on Cuban soil.
    As demonstrated by Paula Henriquez, the lies no longer are believed, the people know what they want and they cannot have it under the ‘socialismo’ regime. Understandably they are weary because they lack the opportunity to determine their own future.

  • More than 60 years of neglect has nearly destroyed Havana. The Castros have lined their pockets while the city is crumnling.

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