22 March 2007

The Crumbling City

Havana is crumbling.

The beautiful colonial city is succumbing to the salty Caribbean air and 48 years of neglect.

You wouldn’t know it by reading this piece of propagandist fantasy disguised as journalism in the Miami Herald, (of all places):

Tourism is restoring the buildings of Old Havana

The unique part of Cuba's plan has been its strategy of restoring old hotels,
restaurants and buildings to attract tourists and then using tourism revenue to fund more restoration, along with social programs and housing renovation, one of Cuba's most pressing problems.

So check this out:

The unique part of Cuba’s “restoration” project is to attract tourism and then reinvest some of the profits back into the tourism business. How is that unique or creative? Why, because the Government is restoring its own property? That's what all property owners do.

What’s unique about Havana’s shameful neglect and decline is that it was caused by the same inefficient system that is now trying to “restore” it. Cuba’s communist government, when it confiscated all private property, became the only landlord on the island.

As the sole landlord, it did not upkeep and maintain any of its buildings and basically became the world’s biggest slumlord, forcing its tenants, the Cuban population, to live in subhuman conditions, filth and squalor.

And then to add insult to injury, it forces the tenants to work as indentured servants where their wages are taxed at about 96% in order to provide funds to restore the tourist venues that they aren’t allowed to enjoy. (but they get free healthcare and indoctrination)

Unique indeed.

The author even goes as far as to blame the pre-Castro rich for Havana’s destruction:

But Old Havana -- the city's district next to its port -- began a long decline as the rich built mansions on the city's outskirts and new business districts cropped up.

Restoration efforts date back to the 1930s, but the work was poorly funded. Even after Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution, Cuba's focus was on developing agriculture and raising living standards for the rural poor. Old Havana continued to deteriorate, despite the efforts of the Office of the Havana Historian.

I emphasized that. Did you get that?

Even after Saint Fidel came, who like some Bizarro World Saint Patrick, brought the snakes back into the island from the sea, the city continued to deteriorate. Really? Buildings did not crumble to the ground in the 50’s when they were only 450 years old. If you stop maintaining your 450 yr old buildings…Surprise! Some don’t make it to 500!

Oh and just as an aside…. That focus “on developing agriculture and raising living standards for the rural poor” that kindda crumbled too. Fidel is also like a King Midas from the Bizarro World, everything he touches, crumbles.


Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

What planet did you say the writer was from?

El Gusano said...


Mambi_Watch said...

In my opinion, you guys may be reading a little too much into these writings.

Anonymous said...

I agree with mambi watch.. you sound like the "dale" on king of the hill.

True the city is in dire straigths, but also there is much truth to the article. I've been to havana many times in recent years..

Have you? if not, how would you know.

Tourism does encourage preservation of old buildings, not just in Cuba, but also in Peru, Mexico , D. R,. etc.. nothing special, just what tourism development tends to encourage. . (since historical buildings are part of what is being "sold" to tourist).

Anonymous said...

To add to what I said above, the point is not to argue that Fidel has improved buildings during his reign of terror (of course not), but I just thing you are reading too much in the M. Herald article. Moreover, as I said before, while the tone of the M. Herald article is biased, the facts are still more or less accurate (they don't just make up this stuff from thin air).

The UN has funneled tons of money to habana for restoration projects. They even have a nice office right in the middle of the project area (habana vieja - UNESCO).. maybe that's something you should look into. .


El Gusano said...

ok so lets commend therevolution for stealing all private property , running into the ground and then only fix them so they can attract tourists and while beeing for int'l (US) $$$$. Yeah I'm reading too much into it. like logic.