By Paula Henriquez
HAVANA TIMES – Family is the foundation of society and, like every family, it is made up of two people who love each other and whose love may result in a third or fourth person, or even more in some cases.
Family is the breath of life, its what ensures the future of civilization and strengthens countries all over the world. While it may seem strong as a concept, it is often very fragile in real life. There are many conditions that can weaken it as its very foundations.
I’m not only referring to problems of falling out of love, infertility etc., but more specifically to something very specific to our country, which is something Cubans have been complaining about for a very long time. Space, privacy, and the right to become independent. In summary, Cuba’s great housing crisis.
Having your own space to raise your children far from preconceptions and harm is, perhaps, evey young couple’s dream when they decide to begin their own family. This is why the housing crisis in my country is one of the things that most concerns our people.
I know many Cubans who live in homes that have been declared “uninhabitable” for years. I know others who have lived forever in “temporary” homes or shelters, as they are often called. These places are mostly old lodges in a deplorable condition. They are far from being temporary accommodation, which we are told they are in theory. They become homes people are forced to live in.
I know other families, like my own, who live altogether in family homes. It’s normal for different generations to live under the same roof in Cuba. You can imagine how hard this can be not only in terms of space, but also in terms of cohabitation. Living like this can become unbearable in some cases, and it can have negative effects on the young couple’s relationship.
Bringing a child into the world is by far the greatest blessing in life. Yet it is also one of the biggest challenges in life, and more so here. We are three for the moment and we are looking at bringing a fourth member into our family. However, we are sharing a room that measures 3 x 2.20 meters.
We are a total of eight people coliving in a two-bedroom house, with different ages, points of views and characters. You can imagine how the elder members of the family give their opinion about how to do things. And they don’t just stop at telling you, they try to impose their will. In short… cohabitation is a very sensitive topic, more so when we are all family.
This could be easily resolved, or pretty easily resolved, in any other country, as anyone working with an average wage could look for a place to rent. This is unthinkable in Cuba.
Renting a house isn’t illegal, there is a regulation for renting. However, there aren’t enough homes and the price is never what’s declared at the Tax Office, it’s a lot higher.
Of course, there’s a reason for this, but that’s another story. Conclusion: it’s as if this alternative doesn’t exist for average workers.
Another option that could work is expanding the family home. I said “could work” though. Maybe at another time. Right now, this isn’t feasible either given the current crisis the world is experiencing, and Cuba especially.
I’m not only talking about permits needed to remodel a house, which are quite a few by the way. The problem now is that the materials needed to remodel are almost non-existent. The few you can find, are out of reach price wise. So, we’re back to where we started off.
This is why it’s normal there are so many family conflicts. The dream of being independent is still far-off for most Cuban families. Nothing like being able to share life with our partners and children without others judging every decision we make. Or others imposing their decisions because they believe they are better. It is simply every free human’s basic wish.