The Little Hotel / Yoani Sánchez

The hospitable accommodations were built on land where pre-fabricated parts were once assembled to create a city for the New Man. As this chimeric individual never emerged, nor were there resources to build new housing, the site remained vacant for decades. When the so-called Battle of Ideas unfolded, they began to lay the foundations here for a hotel with more than a hundred rooms. The cranes and trucks arrived at an astonishing speed for construction in Cuba, and in barely two years they had raised the walls, installed the aluminum windows, and opened the place up. With the resources stolen from that project, many area families painted their facades, installed air conditioning in bedrooms, and remodeled bathrooms.

Known as the Little Tulip Hotel, it was intended as a shelter for Latin American patients who came to our Island for a cure. During the heights of the so-called “Operation Miracle,” its wide entrance was packed with buses discharging dozens of patients every week. Later, when the number who came for health reasons was shrinking, other groups came to receive political-ideological preparation to implement the “Socialism of the 21st Century” in their respective countries. The neighbors — from beyond the wall — were curious about the transformations taking place in those accommodations and ventured various hypotheses about what its final use would be. Some even placed bets on whether it would be given to the military, or if victims of the last hurricane would be brought to live in it.

However, a few days ago, a poster appeared with an offer of a “Christmas dinner” in the formerly exclusive dining room of the small hotel. A few weeks earlier, neighborhood youth had been invited to watch the match between Barcelona and Real Madrid from the plush lobby seating, for a two convertible peso entry fee. Now, the employees in reception say that anyone can rent a room and it’s no longer necessary to be a foreigner to enter the beautiful central courtyard. Undoubtedly, a clear sign that the Battle of Ideas has been laid to rest once and for all and that the real “miracle” proposed by the government, now, is to raise some foreign currency to earn enough profits to cover the costs. To see if the country does not sink into the abyss, as Raul Castro feared in his last speech.