The “El Curita” Park in Havana, History and Present
Photo Feature by Ernesto Gonzalez Diaz
HAVANA TIMES – Located in the block framed by Galeano, Aguila and Dragones streets, in Centro Habana, it is one of the busiest and most well-known parks in the city. It would be difficult to find a Havana resident who does not know it or a visitor who has not, at least, passed through this park on some occasion.
The name “El Curita” refers to Sergio Gonzalez, a young man assassinated in 1958 by the Batista dictatorship. He had a small printing press in the place where the park is today as a result of the inheritance of a small family business. On multiple occasions he used it to print proclamations and pamphlets for the fight against the dictatorship in support of the July 26 movement.
Sergio had spent nine years in a Catholic seminary with the idea of becoming a priest and although he later gave up on that effort, the nickname “el curita” stuck with him. At the triumph of the Revolution in January 1959, the building where the printing press was located was in a deplorable state, so it was decided to demolish it and build a park.
In the surroundings of the park there are several shops and food businesses, both state and private, a bank, printing shops, clothing stores and there are pedicabs and street vendors of all kinds. The P-12 bus route also originates in the park, which covers the route between Centro Habana and Santiago de las Vegas in the south of the city.
On the corner of Aguila and Dragones, is the building where the first telephone exchange in the country was located, owned by the Cuban Telephone Company, owned by a US company, which was the first to provide telephone service on the island. This building, built in 1909, belongs today to the Cuban Telecommunications Company and also houses the National Telecommunications Museum.