Urban Predators / Fernando Damaso


Photo by Rebeca

For some time, concerned and alarmed by the rampant deterioration of the buildings in the city, I have dedicated some time to exploring its municipalities: Central Havana, Cerro, Diez de Octubre and the neighborhood of El Vedado, in Plaza. The ruinous state of what were once were magnificent examples of the different types of architecture is a source of pain and sadness, but even more so are the jewels demolished, mutilated, damaged and transformed for the worse, both by the authorities and the population, in a display of ignorance, irresponsibility, indifference and disinterest for the urban richness, violating all established norms and regulations.

Here, as in other cases, the laws, decrees and regulations have been “wet paper” — worthless — ignored by those who had the duty to uphold and enforce: the constituted authorities at different levels, from the municipality to the nation. The damage is done and is irreversible and, worst of all, it has not yet been halted, despite recent and too late attempts to do so, more formal than real, which are usually objects of propaganda by the official press.

Like many citizens, I ask myself: Who will pay for all these crimes committed against city’s patrimony? Will those responsible ever be tried and punished, both those directly responsible (the administrators, company directors, etc.) and those ultimately responsible, which were those who were in charge over the last fifty-four years? It is right and just to punish citizens who violate the laws and regulations regarding the decoration and buildings, but it would be even more right and just, to also punish those who ordered or allowed (and who still are) demolitions, mistreatments, mutilations and transformations of valuable buildings and similar atrocities.

When a country, the government in power is the first to not value or respect the main components of national identity, including the architecture, it is highly unlikely that the majority of citizens will do so. There’s good fishing in troubled waters! In order to demand, you have to start by setting a good example.

23 September 2013