The Last Days of a House / Regina Coyula

Once, many years ago, the little palace at 13th and 4th in Vedado was the home of a family, a rich family who abandoned it also leaving behind other assets at the triumph of the Revolution in 1959 to go into what they thought was temporary exile and where nothing would even be the same again.

Along with other family properties, the house was considered embezzled goods recovered by the government and was then a diplomatic site for one of our brother countries of Eastern Europe with us in the construction of socialism.

I didn’t know at what point the brotherhood changed in tone, and socialism as well, and the mansion became an annex to the well-known MININT (Ministry of the Interior) unit charged with checking telephone transmissions, about 100 yards away; the annex was in charge of monitoring email traffic.

The corner is shadowed by powerful poplars sending roots over the sidewalk, the slender bars were boarded up with metal plates, and the enormous house was safe from prying eyes and at the mercy of its new owners.

Sheds were erected, the arcades bricked in and the walls painted now and then with treachery and cruelty to blacken later with humidity until it became a blot on the landscape.

I couldn’t fail to be surprised when I recently saw the metal plates removed from the perimeter, restoring the garden with the addition of streetlights, the little palace painted in the pastel shades they favor. A second youth to host in its heart something like the site for the struggle for the return to the fatherland of the anti-terrorist fighters imprisoned in the empire’s prisons, and the predictable and final destination of the ex-member of the Party Central Committee and the ex-president of the National Assembly of Peoples Power — and of so many exes, extinct — Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada.

3 July 2013