One Hundred Workers From India Rush To Complete Hotel In Havana

The Manzana de Gomez Hotel building today. Source: Havana Times
The Manzana de Gomez Hotel building, originally opened in 1910, prior to its renovation. Source: Havana Times

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 21 July 2016 – Over 100 workers from India are working on the construction of the Manzana de Gomez hotel in Havana, being reconstructed by the French construction group Bouygues, according to Reuters. This is the first time there has been a massive contracting of foreign labor on the island.

The company resorted to the exception introduced by the Cuban government in the Foreign Investment Law, that authorizes “special regulations” with regards to foreign workers in “special circumstances.”

Apparently the delays experienced in the construction of the hotel, whose opening was scheduled for October 2016, in a context of high tourist demand, are the extraordinary reason, which has led to the contracting for these workers.

Although the government has not responded to questions fro Reuters, the workers interviewed by the agency and information confirmed by sources from the company, this appears to be the first time a company has passed over state workers on the island to hire their own from elsewhere.

A spokesman for the French Company, which it currently building three hotels in Cuba, says that Bouygues has plans to bring more Indian workers to the island, currently being trained, in the coming months.

Inderjeet Singh Chopra, one of the workers interviewed by Reuters, said more than a hundred of his compatriots are engaged on the island working as electricians, plumbers, carpenters and masons.

Similarly, a diplomat quoted by the agency, estimated that they are paying the Indians around 1,500 euros a month, more than ten times what a Cuban receives. “The Cuban workers are not well paid, so they have very little motivation,” he said.

A rendering of the rebuilt hotel. Source: San Cristobal UK Blog
A rendering of the hotel as it will look when it is rebuilt. Source: San Cristobal UK Blog