Neighbors of a Collapsed Building in Old Havana Denounce the Condition of the Adjoining Houses

All that could be seen with the naked eye, on the busy corner of the Jesus Maria neighborhood in Old Havana, was a bit of dust left by the concrete when it collapsed. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 17 December 2021 — On Friday morning there was no debris left from the collapse that occurred the night before in the building on the corner of Angeles Street and Máximo Gómez (Monte), where so far one fatality has been confirmed. It was president Miguel Díaz-Canel himself who identified the victim in a tweet, after some hours delay, in which he also offered his condolences to the relatives.

All that could be seen with the naked eye, on the busy corner of the Jesus Maria neighborhood in Old Havana, was a bit of dust left by the concrete when it collapsed. A provincial government brigade propped up the building, eliciting expressions of disgust and unease from the residents.

Several neighbors complained to state workers about the adjoining buildings, which are in the same condition as the one that collapsed. “These buildings are at the point of collapse or worse and everyone is silent, then they fall and someone dies and nothing happens, everything remains the same,” complained one of the residents of the place. “What you have to do is protest,” the woman continued very angrily.

“Who am I going to talk to? The delegate [of the People’s Power]? What problem is she going to solve for me? I’m tired of complaining. I’ve gone everywhere,” another neighbor shouted from the crowd.

Before and after the collapse, this is how the property looked in the Jesús María neighborhood, in Old Havana. (Collage)

Without much vigilance from the Police and State Security agents, 14ymedio was able to confirm that the deceased person, whose identity has not yet been disclosed by the official media, was a passerby who was walking in front of the property at around 9:10 p.m.

A family with a child lives in the building, according to an area resident. A washbasin can be seen on the second floor in the images taken by this newspaper, along with other personal object. “During the collapse the family was able to leave, as the ground floor, which is where they live, did not collapse,” the resident explained.

Despite the incident last night and with the propping up of the house still not finished, several members of the family went in and out of the house and it is presumed that they will continue to live in the place.

“The portal [that leads to Monte Street] is almost on the ground, it is completely cracked and you can see that it is about to fall. I would not even prop it up. Those people have to be taken out of there and taken to another place,” other neighbors who watched as the brigade put wooden struts to support the facade of the house, commented among themselves.

Monte has traditionally been one of the most important commercial arteries of the Cuban capital. However, the years without maintenance, its low interet to tourists, and laziness have made it one of the streets in the worst condition in the city. Passing through the portals or going in and out of its businesses can be considered a high-risk sport.

A provincial government brigade propped up the building this Friday morning. (14ymedio)

Jesús María is one of the poorest neighborhoods in the capital. In January 2020, three girls died about 700 meters from this point when a balcony collapsed in the same neighborhood, between Vives and Revillagigedo streets. The structure collapsed when the schoolgirls has left school and were on the sidewalk rehearsing for the celebrations for the birth of José Martí.


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