Nineteen Partial Building Collapses in Havana Neighborhoods

A crowd of residents of the Playa municipality stand in front of the collapsed building / 14ymedio

By Natalia Lopez Moya (14ymedio)

HAVANA TIMES – A group of astonished and curious neighbors gathered this Friday afternoon in front of a building shaped like a small castle on 26th Street between 27th and 29th in the Playa municipality, of Havana. A creaking sound came from the building this morning, as a crack spread across its façade, and shortly afterward, part of its upper floor collapsed.

The rains of recent days have caused at least 19 partial collapses in the Cuban capital, according to an official source consulted by 14ymedio who preferred to remain anonymous. Several people were injured in these incidents, and one person died when a wall collapsed on Calzada del Cerro, between Patria and Carvajal Streets. The downpours have affected the fragile housing infrastructure, which has been suffering from decades of lack of maintenance, no investment in the residential sector, and overcrowding that has forced families to divide spaces in an improvised manner.

Surrounded by an intense Police and State Security operation, the perimeter around the collapse seemed like a war zone this afternoon. “Luckily, no one was injured,” clarified an elderly woman who, standing near a sales stand for agricultural products, had become an impromptu source of information for newcomers, given the secrecy of the official authorities.

“I was at home and heard shouting; I thought it was a wedding, but it was no marriage, it was a collapse,” details one of the women to this newspaper who claims to have “been born and raised” in the neighborhood next to luxurious tourist accommodations, foreign company headquarters, and foreign embassies with well-kept gardens and freshly painted façades.

The building that suffered the partial collapse was built in the first half of the 20th century and is part of an architectural style that combines the functionality of spaces with certain aesthetic details highly appreciated by the Cuban bourgeoisie, who were stripped of their properties after Fidel Castro came to power.

Images shared on social media show how a crack grew on one side of the façade while neighbors shouted to the residents to evacuate as soon as possible. Voices expressed concern for a girl among the residents trying to evacuate the building.

“Run, run, get the girl out!” a man and a woman can be heard shouting as the upper part of the structure collapses, leaving a trail of debris in front of the building. When the dust cloud settles, neighbors from nearby buildings can be seen leaving their homes in search of refuge. In the face of a collapse, no one feels safe.

Despite the widespread belief that collapses only occur in the poorer and older neighborhoods of Havana, residents near the “castle”, wounded by neglect, rain, and time, know that no area of the capital is immune to buildings falling like dominoes.

A health center located close by the newly collapsed building, suffered its own collapse a little over a year ago, forcing patients and workers to be relocated.

“People think that because we live in Miramar, there are no problems here,” says Miriam, an employee of the clinical laboratory of the health center who lost her job when the building collapsed. “They offered me a cleaning job in another municipality, but I said no; I will no longer work for the State. When a king falls, he’s buried. I went with the private sector. Now I work in a café that has only one floor, and the roof is a light cover, it can’t collapse.”

Miriam was among those waiting and watching on the street in front of the decapitated castle this afternoon. “I live in a room nearby, and every time I passed by here, I wondered what my life would have been like if I had a house like that. Now they are worse off than I am; I have a roof over my head, they don’t.”

In less than a week, collapses have affected several Havana neighborhoods. This Thursday, a balcony collapsed around 11:00 p.m. onto the El Tablazo café, located on 1st Street between C and D in El Vedado, Havana. The incident occurred at a peak time in the café and left three adults injured.

The collapse occurred just hours after a partial collapse at number 425 Monte Street, between Angeles and Aguila Streets, in Old Havana. It left a young woman injured. Wall to wall, the building collapse at number 423 had claimed the life of a man three years ago when one of its side walls fell.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

4 thoughts on “Nineteen Partial Building Collapses in Havana Neighborhoods

  • The gov needs to stop building more hotels and allow a free enterprise to come into Cuba with a new leadership.

  • Billions of dollars invested would long time ago saved preshes buildings and created wealth for it’s citizens. The Communist MISS managers have DISTROIED the Jewel of the Caribbean

  • Brian that’s a great idea. How about a campaign for Hard Hat Havana Tours. And ask the visitors to bring a few extra hard hats for the locals.

  • Surely, these collapses must be soon affecting your tourist industry or do hotels offer ‘hard hats’ to residents when they go out for the day !!

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