A Beautiful Lady Comes to Less / Rebeca Monzo

Patchwork, Rebeca

Because of the 492nd Anniversary of the Villa of Saint Christopher of Havana, between the many television programs dedicated to this celebration, Hurón Azul, of the UNEAC (Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba), presented some interviews with renowned architects and artists, where they poured out their opinions about the the deteriorating image of the city, the beautiful lady coming to less.

Some of the views expressed that, effectively, at present, due to a uncontrolled profusion of little ground-floor businesses, the cast majority of them improvised, depressing small shops (a derogatory term to describe them), are not due only to the bad taste and scanty resources of the owners, but more to the total absence of control and lack of demand that they at least present a small project plan to the managers in charge of granting the licenses or permits.

Undoubtedly, this could also be caused, by the urgency of the government in offering an escape route for the population, before the massive layoffs and their growing disapproval and the hopelessness, accentuating the impossibility of the State’s ability to offer them other work alternatives.

The urgent need of the citizens to cover the basic necessities has made these stalls proliferate in an uncontrolled manner, using doorways, stair landings, gardens and even sidewalks (mostly common-use areas), in those that unfortunately abound in bad taste and precariousness, consequently contributing to making things more ugly in the already abandoned city that formerly was considered one of the most beautiful in the world, and that survives miraculously, going through half a century of indolence and abandonment, without the Cuban authorities having done the least thing to preserve this beautiful heritage inherited by the district and the republic, that is the city of Havana.

Its decadence started very early, back in the 1970s, when they closed up and plunged into total abandonment premises that belonged to local shops, bookstores, stores, and department stores, whose owners went into exile, or else those of the people who stayed were confiscated, while some were subsequently handed over by the State for housing without the necessities nor demands that the future owners undertake a minimum of effort to make them habitable. Thus they urgently tried to solve a problem that years later led to a larger one.

Now, in this new anniversary of the city, they have sounded the warning once again, before the growing fear that they are continuing to lose the architectural value that made Havana so famous.

Translated by: BW

November 22 2011