With their beds on the street, a family from Old Havana denounces the collapse of their house

With their beds on the street, a family from Old Havana denounces the collapse of their house

In Cuba, the walls speak as much as the people. Cracks, humidity, bricks, leaks, beams, plaster shells, clouds of dust, these are the words of a painful and urgent language: that of collapsing buildings. They are not exclusive to Havana, but in the old city, punished by saltpeter and overpopulation, the limit between habitability and ruin is more diffuse, it matters less.

It is part of the daily drama that a family, subjected to the blackout and continuous shortages, sees the structure of a house suffer, witness how it shakes during a cyclone and observe how it falls apart due to lack of maintenance.

The roof of a building on Havana Street, between Aguiar and Muralla, in the oldest area of ​​the capital, collapsed several days ago. Not knowing what to do, the neighbors gathered their belongings and took to the streets in protest.

The faces of the mothers, the children and the elderly are of such pure despair that it is frightening to see. A lot of anger, visceral impotence, because the solution does not depend on a personal effort but on the parsimony of the bureaucrats. They tried to appease them with promises: guaranteed food, current, materials. But nothing happened.

This Friday they returned to the street again. In the junk they have on the asphalt their whole life fits: cradles, mattresses, racks, basins, mason’s wheelbarrows, furniture that has been in the family for decades, Soviet appliances and Chinese fans, relics of all times.

The victims of the collapse, ready to make their domestic barricade, prevent the passage of vehicles and pedestrians. They want the country to stop and listen to them. “No one will pass through here until this is resolved,” shouts a woman, who only agreed to the request to let an old woman clinging to her cane continue.

The local authorities do not offer solutions or respond to dialogue, but they have already referred the usual gang of State Security agents, motorcyclists with police badges, ex-combatants ready to assert their collection of medals and traffic officers, who divert clueless drivers out of the area.

At the mouth of the street, a couple of agents try to discredit the women who are screaming. “They act silly but they are cheeky”, they say to whoever stops to see the panorama, “they know that they cannot be there and that there are people working to solve the problem. But no: what they want is to put on a show” .

Among the evicted there is a woman dressed in white. She is an initiate in Santeria or iyawo, but the “secure” lie to passers-by telling them that it is a Lady in White. “Nobody here cares anymore if she’s a santera or a dissident, boy,” someone who walks by answers them. The policemen get frustrated: the old techniques are of little use anymore.

“Look at the help from the government,” says a woman, pointing to a squalid cardboard box with yellow rice and rancid pumpkin, which was distributed in the neighborhood at ten o’clock at night. “That’s the food they were going to ‘help’ us with,” she says, “is that what I’m supposed to feed my son?”

The junk they have on the asphalt holds their whole life: cradles, mattresses, racks, basins, mason's wheelbarrows, furniture that has been in the family for decades... relics from all eras.  (14ymedio)

“We are desperate,” explains another of the victims. “There is no gas or electricity, and besides, our kitchens also collapsed. What do we do?”

Those who monitor, those who beat, the bureaucrats, all of them often suffer from the same deficiencies. However, that does not prevent them from obeying the orders of those who live comfortably, without blackouts and fed on imported delicacies.

Meanwhile, a retired old man prepares to fulfill his “duty” and juggles to interrupt a young man who is recording the scene. No matter where the camera is focused, the old man harasses, moves, covers the stage, until the young man gets bored and leaves the place. “We don’t have blood in our veins,” says an angry man who witnesses the scene.

With the trinkets and the people who shout, the Havana street is narrowed by sweat and despair. The claim of the evicted, shipwrecked in a country adrift, sums up the pain of the entire Island.


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