The residents of the buildings located at Zulueta 508 and 512, adjacent to the Saratoga hotel, have gone from having some of the best views of the capital to looking at the ruins that surround their new homes. After the tragedy that caused them to lose their homes when the historic luxury building exploded on May 6 due to a gas leak, those affected will once again have a roof over their heads, but that’s as far as the good news.
On Avenida de España, better known as Calle Vives, between Carmen and Figuras, there are eight new homes that have been delivered to the victims of the Saratoga explosion, where 47 people lost their lives. According to the official press, the buildings are “almost ready” and their new tenants “can support the completion of electrical details.”
Havana Tribune published the news this Wednesday, detailing that the formwork system known as FORSA has been used in the homes, for which cast concrete is used, and a cistern has been built to guarantee the water supply. “This Wednesday’s day is one more that shows that with perseverance, organization and control, any goal can be achieved,” concludes the very brief note dotted with photographs in which close-ups of the new buildings can be seen.
The surrounding houses are on the verge of collapse, when they have not already fallen, and the stench fills the streets of a neighborhood that, despite being located in Old Havana, is hardly visited by tourists
It is enough to open the focus to see what is the new reality of future neighbors. The surrounding houses are on the verge of collapse, when they have not already fallen, and the stench fills the streets of a neighborhood that, despite being located in Old Havana, is hardly visited by tourists and lacks any attraction.
If before, just by leaving their homes, they had a few meters from the restored Capitol to Parque de la Fraternidad, the main node of collective taxis in the city, passing through the shops on Calle Monte and the restored areas around the hotels near the Central Park, now the environment is much less pleasant.
As a road that connects with the Central Railway Station of Havana, Vives street had its splendor time also closely related to the flow of passengers and merchandise. However, over time the area suffered the deterioration of its buildings, the decline of the railway system on the Island and the disdain of the restoration plans for the historic center that have kept this area of the city forgotten.
A neighborhood with a reputation for conflict, Atarés is among the least valued areas of Old Havana to reside, and not only because of its ailing buildings and its streets with holes and puddles of sewage, but also because of the frequent problems with the water supply that it forces many of its neighbors to carry it from other places.
On a corner, a man selling poplars hesitates when a buyer asks if they are hot. “It’s the same – concludes the client – I’ll have to eat them, because I don’t have anything else.” The passers-by are residents of this forgotten corner of Havana where poverty is even more palpable when compared to the privileged place from which their new neighbors come.
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