Havana 2024: Poverty, Blackouts, Remittances

This is the capital of a country whose ills a single photo can not exhaust

A segment of Revillagigedo street that overlooks the Atarés cove, in Old Havana / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 3 May 2024 — It is difficult to make the adventures of a country fit in a single photo. Sometimes, however, the shots come together in front of the camera and the country says what it has to say about itself. 14ymedio captured this snapshot that summarizes, if not all, some of the key points of the crisis in which Cuba has been immersed for years.

This is a segment of Revillagigedo Street that overlooks the Atarés Cove, in Old Havana, where a Supermarket 23 vehicle stopped this Friday. Supermarket 23 provides home delivery of food ordered and paid for by someone “out there” — where the dollars come from — for their relatives or friends in Cuba.

For many Cubans, the online market is the way they always get their food.

Uniformed and clean, the employee distributes the “little bag” with the products in a neighborhood that could not be more dilapidated and in which trash sites proliferate. A few meters from where the car is parked, a person – a cap on his head, backpack and red socks – is digging through a container. For those who do not receive remittances, there is always the garbage.

Among the overflowing garbage bins, beggars find their food and those who collect and sell raw materials back to the State find junk to dismantle. Properly used, a container can be a gold mine for those the official press — which does not spare euphemisms — calls “wanderers.”

For those who do not receive remittances, there is always the garbage

The bars on the doors, the windows and the air conditioners are eloquent signs of the insecurity that the country is experiencing: without bars, any equipment is at risk of being torn from the wall, and any hole can serve as an entrance for increasingly violent bandits and thieves. Settled on his motorcycle, a man tries to grease and start the mechanism, while residents and passers-by walk through Revillagigedo. Up the street, down the street.

At the mouth of the street, with the sea in full view, appears the imposing silhouette of a Turkish patana, a floating power plant. To suffer blackouts so close to machine that is as polluting as it is powerful is ironic for Havanans. The towers of the floating plant evoke not only the energy instability of the country, but also give the neighborhood an apocalyptic air, which mixes very well — sadly — with the cracked and unpainted building.

This is the capital of country, however, whose ills a single photo cannot exhaust.


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