Luis Rondon Paz

HAVANA TIMES — I recently paid a visit to the municipality of Mariel to meet with an old friend. Currently, Mariel is part of the province of Artemisa (formerly La Habana) and has a population of 42,504 inhabitants.

One of the highlights of the town is the Palacio Rubens (“Rubens Palace”), built between 1905 and 1908 at one of the most elevated parts of the locality.

Palacio Rubens

During my brief stay, I asked a local about the current state of the container terminal at the Development Zone and employment opportunities for the residents of Mariel. He replied that all development was taking place within the terminal, adding that the townspeople might see some of the dividends generated by the port in some years’ time.

He then suggested I didn’t spend too much time in the area, as, according to him, the city practically turns into a ghost-town after five in the afternoon. If I made the mistake of staying after that time, I ran the risk of finding nothing that would take me back to Havana.

His remark left me somewhat worried, so I decided to catch a truck-cab to the Pinar del Rio highway as early as possible and head back to Havana a few minutes later.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see my friend – but that is another story.

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Below are some pictures I managed to take.


6 thoughts on “A Visit to the Town of Mariel, Artemisa

  • There is no dichotomy between education and menial tasks.

  • Thank you. And enjoy your stay in Cuba.

  • Sven, I should have added that the wooden house I described is right next door to the house of the President of the CDR for our block! The stark reality of Cuba! I would love to take the Castros for a tour of real Cuba to allow them to see the consequences of their “revolution”. As you will be aware, many other countries have experienced revolution, but most of them were to provide the people with liberty, democracy and freedom of expression. Cuban fathers and mothers have the same desires as those we know in our free countries. They want to improve their homes for their families, provide a better future for their children and to have access to knowledge about what is happening out there in the wider world. Such wishes create fear in the heart of the Castro family regime as subversive as they represent a threat to their power and control. It is the same paranoid force which drove the Russians to roll in the tanks to crush “rebellion” in Hungary in 1956 except it is cloaked. Fidel Castro sacked one of his Ministers for expressing opposition to the Soviet action in against the Czechs in 1968. I have a three year old Godchild in Cuba and can only pray that at sometime in her future she will be able to know the joy of freedom – in her own country! Happily I shall see her in the near future and my contributions here will cease for several months.

  • Thank you for your comment Carlyle.

  • Those pictures Sven reflect the reality of life in he non-tourist parts of Cuba. Don’t forget that the restoration projects in Old Havana, Trinidad etc. were funded by UNESCO not by the Castro family regime. Only four doors away from our home in Cuba, there is a wooden house where at night one can see the interior light through the gaps in the planking even although the major holes have been stuffed with bits of cloth. But similar conditions can be seen in the non-tourist parts of Havana. Such are the benefits of 55 years of dreary poverty under the system of “Socialismo”.
    Yet in these pages you read commentary by those who think of Dr. Ernesto “Che” Guevara the executioner of El Morro, of the ranting 5 hour speeches of the bearded Fidel in Revolution Square and the power and control exerted by the regime over the tired weary people of the country as justified if not exemplary. Such people sit in comfort receiving the benefits of democratic governments without concern for the lives of those suffering under “socialismo”, without concern for those who endeavor to seek freedom , risking and sometimes losing their lives when doing so.
    They extol the virtues of Cuba’s medical and educational programs. As one with quite a lot of knowledge abou the educational system, I have asked a question which Cubans are unable to answer. What is the purpose of such education when you peddle a bici-taxi or sell a few avocadoes or mangoes from your doorstep in order to exist?

  • When you look at pictures of houses… poverty strikes me.

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