Woman Dies When the Roof of a Soup Kitchen Collapses in Old Havana

Firefighters rushed to the crash site, which was packed with onlookers. (Capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 10 March 2022 — A woman died due to injuries sustained by the fall of the false ceiling in a soup kitchen in Old Havana last Tuesday. The woman was an employee of the Family Care System (SAF) at the premises on the corner of Monserrate and Lamparilla, and she also lived in the vicinity of the place.

“It was more or less 4:30 in the afternoon when part of the false ceiling collapsed,” details another worker from the Gastronomy Company that manages the dining room. “She was an elderly person and she was inside sweeping when part of the roof collapsed. She died instantly, nothing could be done because the pieces that fell were very large.”

This Thursday the state in which the premises remained after the collapse was still visible. (14ymedio)

The premises, located on the ground floor, previously housed the Bar Franco, but was recently converted into a dining room for the elderly, people with disabilities and other social cases. “This SAF was previously located at Teniente Rey and Cuba, but that place is now a shelter for families affected by the collapse of their homes,” the employee clarifies.

“Since the transfer was made, it was evident that this facility was badly damaged by leaks in the roof falling from the residential building above it. Several employees complained about it, but nothing was done,” he says. “Her body was completely buried under the rubble.”

“All the buildings on this block are in very poor condition, and when heavy trucks pass by, everything shakes. It’s very scary,” the woman explains. “If it had been lunchtime and it had been full of old people, the tragedy would have been greater, that’s what all the neighbors are commenting on.”

In a video broadcast through the social network Facebook, numerous people can be seen leaning out of the windows of the dining room last Tuesday after the collapse, and a fire engine arriving at the scene. La Esquina, a very busy place, is near a Cuban peso store that constantly has long lines.

In Cuba there are 76,175 people registered in the Family Attention System that provides them with a daily lunch and dinner. The lack of variety, the low quality of food and the rise in prices after the entry into force of the Ordering Task* are a constant target of criticism and complaints.

Users of this service are mostly retirees who lament that spices, oil and animal protein are often lacking in the food prepared. The 445 kitchens of this type that exist throughout the country also receive people with disabilities and other social problems daily.

*Translator’s note: Tarea ordenamiento = the [so-called] ‘Ordering Task’ which is a collection of measures that includes eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and others. 


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