14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 24 April 2019 — Where once the hustle and bustle of children’s voices resounded at all hours of the day, silence now reigns. Most entertainment devices for the little ones have disappeared and those that are installed are covered with tarps or disconnected.
The place where there used to be an old state parking lot for vehicles, is now converted into an area to where the self-employed can rent spaces. Outskirts of each restaurant or cafe elegant young men show the menus where they announce “excellent dishes.” As for the playground, “That closed because it bothered a neighbor who convinced the whole building to protest,” says one of the waiters.
For the residents the question was not in dispute. Their health was affected due to “sound pollution,” and this was reflected in many of their demands to the Ministry of Public Health and the Provincial Government of the capital. The pressure they brought to bear, with complaint letters detailing the problems, caught the attention of the authorities, who agreed to close the playground.
According to the Facebook page Vecinos de La Rampa (Neighbors of La Rampa) there are several, not just one, residents whose complaints about the noise led them to close the park. One of them is Dr. Alina Arcos, who works in the Emergency Department of a hospital and lamented that she could hardly rest when she arrived home after more than nine hours of work.
“For three years, the residents of the community to which I belong have sent letters, complaints and denunciations to any organization, institution or official that might have any role in this, and except for a temporary solution, the rest have been useless. The businesses that operate there violate the commitments made by the Government and the Party with the community before its opening, multiple existing rules are openly breached and this puts our health at risk,” said Arcos in a post for the month of March.
After several complaints in different instances made over more than three years and on social networks, the neighbors decided to show their discontent by hanging fabrics from their balconies, which they have now removed. “On this Boulevard, profits matters more than the welfare of the community, enough is enough!” Said one, and, “This Boulevard violates our right to live in peace,” said another.
“We all worked together and our efforts won. My parents, who lived tormented by the situation, now feel relieved,” a young man who lives in the building told 14ymedio an Thursday afternoon.
It is not the first time that the neighbors managed to close the park with their demands. The authorities had already ordered the closure of the park on a previous occasion, although the owners decided to ignore it and reopened it despite not having the required permits .
“We neighbors just discovered that the Boulevard does not have — hear this — has not and never has had a health license for the use that it has been put to,” denounced another of the neighbors in the neighborhood Facebook group.
On April 13, just before the school break, the park closed. “Days before there was a meeting here with more than 20 neighbors in which the president of the Municipality of Plaza de la Revolución participated,” says another neighbor who plays with her grandson in the inner courtyard of the building located on N Street between 23rd and 25th.
Before getting the facilities closed, Dr. Arcos pointed suspiciously at “corruption,” “abuse of power” and “influence peddling” as the causes that could explain the State’s delay in this case when it comes to protecting citizens.
This week one of the vice-presidents of the Plaza Municipal Assembly of the Power, Pedro Pablo Herrera, was dismissed from his position. Although the reasons are unknown, two sources claim that Herrera participated in at least one of the Assemblies that was held with the residents of Boulevard D’25 to try to solve the noise problem.
The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.