14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, September 8, 2023 — The phrase with which Cubans mock the partial restoration of Havana every time the visit of a foreign president is expected is accurate: “Put some makeup on the old woman,” that is, hide the potholes and paint the facades of certain “strategic” streets, while the rest of the city faces one collapse after another. This is precisely what is happening on the eve of the summit of the Group of 77 plus China, which the Island regime will host on September 15 and 16.
Traditional allies, such as Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Comrade Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, will not suffer the slightest setback on Rancho Boyeros Avenue – freshly repaired and embellished – that goes from José Martí International Airport to the city center.
Neither the president of Honduras, Xiomara Castro, nor that of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, will see the grotesque garbage piles that accumulate in the streets of Centro Habana or Luyanó. “The mountains of garbage are about to give each other a kiss and a hug,” the residents of Nuevo Vedado, an area of the capital, once well-off and now abandoned, ironize in front of two “neighboring” landfills. Miguel Díaz-Canel will not dare to take Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, through this area.
However, for the limited portion of the city that will serve as a “background” for the summit, a fleet of tractors, rollers, cleaning vehicles and contingents of workers, sweepers and supervisors is already circulating. “It’s the circuit of prosperity,” conclude those who travel today along the emblematic 23rd Street, which is also receiving its dose of “makeup,” before adding that “only the Pope is missing” from the city.
The leaders, gathered in Havana to talk about “development, science, technology and innovation,” will leave without going through the bitter experience of being stopped by a tense traffic police officer, imported from the neighboring province of Mayabeque to support the summit.
“They are ending the fines these days,” summarized a taxi driver this Friday, while muttering under his breath something similar to a prayer to the Virgin of Charity. His desire: that the policemen leave Havana as quickly as the the world leaders.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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