By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES – The cement shortage in Cuba, and exorbitant price to get it, is only affecting people trying to repair or build their homes. In contrast, the military continues to build new hotels. And now, the government built a towering cement monument in front of the US Embassy in another slap in ordinary citizens’ faces.
The government says cement is for sale for 165 pesos ($6.60 USD) at state stores, but good luck trying to find it. Some of the US dollar stores sell bags for $10 but even there the product is often absent. Citizens must pay around 1,000 pesos ($40 USD) to buy a bag on the illicit market. This cement seeps through the cracks at government warehouses or is bought up and then offered in resale.
Construction sites for government projects are also known as places where the workers supplement their low income by selling part of the construction materials on the sly. This has been going on for as long as people can remember. Managers are either involved, taking a cut, or totally incompetent in the face of shrinking inventories or deficient materials used in the constructions.
Meanwhile, in Havana, and elsewhere around the country, many homes and apartment buildings are crumbling. People often must live with leaky roofs, broken stairwells and sidewalks and even more serious structural problems.
The government prioritizes the military and its hotels and other infrastructure. That’s where the money is. In practice, people must repair homes on their own despite their miserably low incomes. If they wait for the government to help, which they do in theory, it can take many years or decades.
The monument of a huge cement Cuban flag out in front of the US embassy is a memorial to waste. Apparently, it symbolizes the government’s determination to maintain a thorn in the “eternal enemy’s” side. Meanwhile, Cubans continue to see their country’s housing infrastructure crumble, sometimes to an irreparable state.