Havana for International Tourism


Photo feature by Elio Delgado Valdes

HAVANA TIMES — There’s no room for doubt, Havana is a long-standing and beautiful city. I’ve started this article with this statement even though it may raise doubts in my readers.

It’s just that even though neglect has taken over the city, when we walk through newly restored spaces, transformed so they can be used for other things, even changing their names sometimes, a new landscape full of grandeur is being unveiled before us, reawakening the city’s brilliant historic legacy. The area displays the city’s most select architectural heritage.

The recently completed work to makeover the Manzana de Gomez, converted into a luxury hotel, fitted out with stores on the ground floor with goods that are out of the reach of any ordinary Cuban, along with building developments around it, is offering another face to Havana city for international tourism.

The neglect of neighboring parks has caught everyone’s attention. Parque Central, which is halfway between the municipalities of Old Havana and Central Havana, which many people visit everyday, has a new outlook today, its gardens and trees are have been tidied, victims of a pitiful pruning, its streetlights with Greco-Roman motifs have been restored.

Until not long ago, the small Albear park, which was called Monserrate up until 1895 when the monument of Francisco de Albear y Fernadez was erected – the creator behind many of Cuba’s important social projects – looked completely run-down; its trees and dry fountain. Today, it has another facade, baby Birch trees have been planted and a specialist team is carrying out conservation work on the monument.

Meanwhile, the line of royal palms that had succumbed to the trembling and polluted environment surrounding Cuba’s Capitolio, have now been replaced with smaller ones so that they can adapt to the urban environment.

These are the times of a different Havana, the area gives tourists the vision that is fitting with the title awarded to the city by UNESCO as a Marvellous City, but if you walk deeper into its infinite maze of streets, the cries silenced by its buildings and residents will show you a hidden side of a city which is opening up to foreign investment.

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6 thoughts on “Havana for International Tourism

  • Yes, emagicmtman, Cuba owes a lot to UNESCO funding from capitalist countries which has preserved an architecture, history and culture that long pre-dates the arrival of the Castro dictatorship.
    Did you read the article upon housing construction declining annually in Cuba with statistics provided? How do you account for the decline? Can you tell me why it is that it isn’t possible to obtain wooden doors? Why it isn’t possible to obtain paint? Why it isn’t possible to obtain furniture other than the glitzy rubbish being pedalled by TRD?
    Why is it that generation upon generation have to live packed like sardines in two bedroom crumbling homes?

  • There’s a song, written by a singer-songwriter who occasionally performed at the “Blau Licht”/Blue Light Coffee House I ran in Greenfield, MA, in the 1980’s, whose lyrics ran something like “row by row, I’m gonna make my garden grow,” Looks like bit by bit, Habana Vieja, plus other neighborhoods of Habana, continue being rehabbed. I’m impressed by the work going on. I’d often take one of the metro-buses, and occasionally, when the buses were too packed, an “almendron,” from the Parque de Fraternized out to La Lisa and San Agustin, along Calle 51, and can see the major improvements since my last visit. Onward and upward to Centro and the other neighborhoods. During the last decades I’ve seen lots of new housing, both apartment developments and individual housing (the latter,often second story additions to former single-floor houses) in the outer neighborhoods of Habana and in other cities and towns throughout the island. Although the changes in the Parque de Fraternized and the Parque Central depicted here have to do with either improving existing, or the expanding additional, tourist zones in Habana Vieja and Centro, nevertheless, as wealth is created by the tourist sector, medical biologics, agriculture, etc., the more ever larger %’s of it will be plowed back in to the creation of such improvements. One way to see for yourselves is, via YouTube, to view the mid-day and evening “Noticias Estelar”, which often visits the sites of new projects.

  • Well Kennedy Earle Clarke when are you going to start listing those supposed benefits? The Propaganda Department of the PCC is waiting anxiously!

  • “The revolution has brought untold benefits to its people.”
    Please Kennedy Earle Clarke provide a list of these “untold” benefits. We all know those which the regime claims, medical services and education, but you claim that the revolution has brought others. The Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba will be disappointed to know that they have missed out, but delighted to have the list that you are able to provide.
    Your comment that the Communist regime has brought dignity to the people of Cuba would be laughable if it were not for the reality that the “dignity” you so ardently support is a pitiful income, no freedom of expression, no free media, only repression and oppression.
    By talking about the “strides” that the Castro regime has made you must be thinking of the ever declining production of food, the jailing of anyone who dares to criticize their political masters and the provision of accommodation at $440 per night for wealthy capitalists.
    The indelible memory you describe no doubt includes Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and Hitler (National socialist)

  • You CErmle must be one of those able to afford $440 to stay in the Hotel Manzana for one night.
    For Cubans that sum represents over ONE YEAR’s earnings!
    The regime which you so much admire is dependent upon investment by the capitalist world. Like leeches they need to suck upon the success of a system that is so far superior to their own. You bleat “Forward Ever” after fifty eight years of muddling along and falling ever further behind, just when is that movement forward going to commence?

  • Long live the Revolution! Forward Ever! Backward Never!

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