Fernando Damaso, 8 October 2018 — Next year, in the month of November, we will celebrate 500 years of the founding of Villa de San Cristóbal de La Habana. The authorities, after sixty years of abandonment and neglect, with the honorable exception of the Historian of the City, mainly in Old Havana and its surroundings, are mobilized to try to beautify it and make it a little presentable on such an important date.
The city’s large accumulated problems, such as 90% of its housing stock in only fair or poor condition, hundreds of unhealthy slums, where families are crowded, thousands of homeless sheltered for years in inadequate facilities and in miserable conditions, lack of public transportation, the shortage of drinking water, the collapsed drainage and sewage systems, the lack of public lighting and frequent power cuts, streets and sidewalks destroyed, dirt and filth due to the lack of garbage and solid waste collection, the destruction and non-replacement of trees along the streets and in avenues and parks, depressing and poorly supplied state shops, deafening noises, widespread social indiscipline and others, of course, can not be solved in thirteen months of work.
For this, time, workforce and material resources are lacking. In addition, we cannot do in a year what was left undone for six decades.
Therefore, it is foreseeable, accustomed as we are to these massive cyclical marathons, that everything will be concentrated on rescuing some of the other important facilities, mainly in Old Havana, Plaza and Playa, the privileged municipalities, renovating some parks and painting the facades (never the side or rear walls) of the buildings in the main streets and avenues, as “showcases.”
It has been announced that Chinatown will be rescued, where there are very few Chinese left, mainly with an eye to the tourists. Will Chinese be imported to inhabit it? Will they be authorized to run private businesses? A Chinatown without active Chinese would be a mockery.
The “deep city,” that formed by the remaining municipalities, except the avenue that joins the José Martí international airport to the city in the Boyeros Municipality, which will surely be used as a showcase, will receive only a few crumbs of the feast. This will be compensated with a lot of music, rum and beer in the days of the celebration, so that the sorrows are forgotten.
Once the marathon is over and the goals have been met by all the participating agencies and institutions, political events will be held with the most notable to reward the work done, flags and certificates will be handed out, and so on until the next anniversary.
We must pray that nature will not spoil the party with the visit of a hurricane in September or October, months in which they usually visit us every year, because then the 500th Anniversary would be sad.