English Translations of Cubans Writing From the Island
So As Not To Forget / Fernando Dámaso
Walking through the recently restored Plaza Vieja in the historic center of Havana, I noticed a large poster with photos with landslides, debris, garbage, etc., which read: SO AS NOT TO FORGET. I looked for some date and didn’t find any: when the photos were taken is not clear.
I asked some of the young people, and not so young people, sitting at the El Escorial café nearby, if they knew what era the photos corresponded to, and without exception they said: before the Revolution.
Respectfully, I explained to them that they were wrong, that before the Revolution there was an underground parking garage, a park, a cinema, a printers and stationery store, and different business all around the square, and that the photos correspond to the decade of the 1970s when all of Old Havana, due to abandonment, had become a huge slum, and they had to organize work teams and convoys of trucks to remove the accumulated trash and rubble from the building collapses and clear it away.
I admire the City Historian and his collaborators for the magnificent work they have done and are still doing, often against all odds, faced with incomprehension and even lack of resources. I think it highly commendable to show each building or area as it was, before being restores, as this should help to raise awareness about the need for care and maintenance, but I also think that it is necessary, to avoid confusion, to clearly show the dates of the photographs on display.
Without any bad intentions, only by omission, we could be contributing to further distorting the already misunderstood story.