Kerry and the Pope Make Painting Havana Necessary / Hablemos Press, Mario Echavarría Driggs

Construction brigades repair Reina Avenue. Photo: Elio Delgado

Construction brigades repair Reina Avenue. Photo: Elio Delgado

Hablemos Press, Mario Echavarría Driggs, Havana, 17 August 2015 — “A painted old lady; they’re painting her up so that Kerry and Pope can see how pretty Havana is,” were the comments from Luciano, a newspaper vendor in Havana who was marketing his merchandise on the corner of Reina and Escobar, in the Centro Habana borough.

For some weeks now, various brigades associated with the state-run construction companies ECAL, SECONS and others that fall under the National Assembly of People’s Power, have placed scaffolds along Simón Bolívar Avenue, which is popularly known by its pre-Revolution name, Calle Reina (Queen Street).

These platforms occupy the sidewalks and part of the street, and provide little or no protection to traffic and pedestrians. From high above, the workmen are painting—their paint and tools in hand—poised above a flimsy metal strip. Continue reading