‘Havana is Falling Down and the Government Doesn’t Care’

Despite the fact that San Lázaro is one of the busiest avenues in Havana, the authorities have not closed traffic on that stretch, and the remains of the collapse spill over the sidewalk. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 9 June 2022 — The rains and hail were not the only things that fell this Wednesday in Havana. Again, in the capital, a building collapsed, specifically, the top floor of a three-story building on San Lázaro at the corner Genios.

“Luckily he was still awake, because if it had been later, he would have been gone.” The residents of the place, gathered in front of the ruined building, commented on the event on Thursday, which occurred around 9:15 the night before.

At that time, the roof of the upper floor, where a boy and his mother lived, gave way, falling on the apartment and the balcony, which also took down the balconies on the ground floor.

The young man, who was alone at home, managed to see how the beams gave way and took refuge under a table. “That was what saved his life,” says one of the neighbors, who reports that another of the residents was arriving home from work at that time when the noise occurred. “A glass of water gave him time to drink, and his wife came out white with fright.”

It was something that the neighbors were awaiting with panic. One of them, precisely, had been worried about the storm for days, because the upper balcony was in very bad condition. “The mayor was aware, the delegate… everyone, but they don’t do anything.”

Two women, who live in a nearby building, also very deteriorated, commented that they are terrified, that they cannot sleep, that they also have no alternative housing and that, meanwhile, the Government is crossing its arms.

“This is going to be a chain, they are going to fall one after the other,” said one of them. “The government is not interested in the fact that Havana is falling down,” replied the other. Just then, a young police officer appeared, clipboard in hand, and began to converse quietly with a man. Immediately, the residents fell silent.

Sobre las 9:15 de la noche, el techo de la planta superior, donde vivían un muchacho y su madre, cedió, cayendo sobre el departamento y el balcón. (14ymedio)

They are just waiting for at least one crane to arrive to finish knocking down “some walls that are in danger, that are very cracked.” These, they detailed, have been deteriorating not only due to lack of maintenance, but also due to the vibration produced by the buses that pass along San Lázaro, one of the arteries of Havana, which connects El Vedado with Old Havana and runs a good part for Central Havana.

Despite this, the authorities have not closed traffic on that section, and the remains of the collapse spill out over the sidewalk.

Unlike the more touristy streets, such as those of the Plaza de la Revolución or the Malecón avenue, San Lázaro has not received repairs for decades. The proximity to the sea has combined with the lack of maintenance to accelerate a deterioration that is deeper from the corner with Belascoaín and to the vicinity of Paseo del Prado.

This Wednesday’s collapse is located right in one of the most damaged sections, the one that starts from the beginning of the avenue to Galiano street.


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