Rust Has Taken Over Havana’s Playgrounds

Some children are forced to make up their own games under the structures that used to support the swings. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 21 November 2021 — “This looks like the tetanus park with so much rust on the structures,” complains a mother who has arrived with her son to take advantage of the reopening, after a long closure, of the playground on 104th between 39th and 41st, in the municipality capital of Marianao. “The merry-go-round is practically a foot chopping blade, a complete disaster,” she says before leaving with her little one. “Let’s go, this is no time to end up in the hospital.”

Far from having taken advantage of the closure that they have experienced for more than a year due to the pandemic to renovate the facilities, the parks have reopened in conditions of worrying abandonment and deterioration, which has resulted in the discomfort of parents and even some children when noticing the bad condition of the swings, slides, and other games.

“Papi, why is everything broken and dirty?” a little girl asks innocently at the 1004th Street park, to which her father replied: “The economic crisis my love, the country does not have the resources to fix anything right now.” How can he tell a little girl that the government prefers to invest in luxury hotels for tourists? To make her displeasure pass, the father decided to take the little girl to eat an ice cream in the cafeteria on the corner.

Some children are forced to settle for inventing games under the structures that once supported swings and boats, the smallest under adult supervision, but the largest were at their mercy. “Boys be careful!” shouted a woman who was watching her son from a bench to others who running across the place while they played. “You have to see things in this country, even the fence has been stolen,” she exclaimed annoyed, while pointing out the more than 10 meters of mesh that the park is missing.

How can he tell a little girl that the government prefers to invest in luxury hotels for tourists rather than parks? (14ymedio)

The enthusiasm with which the state newspaper Granma announced on November 14 the reopening of the parks, coinciding with the anniversary of Havana — a date moved up by the Government to discourage the Civic March — led some parents to take their children to enjoy some leisure time in them. “Joy takes the parks of Cuba,” the official newspaper headlined, but in La Pera, a man who had approached with his family commented: “Those who have to take over the parks are the masons and metallurgists, because more than joy what this level of abandonment offers is sadness.”

“Oh God, be careful Pabli,” exclaimed a girl of about nine years old in this same park located in the Plaza municipality, when she saw how her friend had leaned against a wall of blocks that constitutes the perimeter fence that, just at that moment that the stones broke away. For months, some people have been stealing several of those stacked blocks as a last resort in the face of a lack of building materials for sale.

The incident gave the little ones a scare, although some of the restless children who usually play in that place, often come home with cuts and scrapes produced by some broken metal or a loose screw. “Hopefully they will come to fix the park before a misfortune occurs with a child,” said an older woman who, with the help of her cane, was heading towards a line on one of the corners to shop in the Rapidito at Requena and Lugareño.


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