USA Today published a story Sunday about the frequent building collapses that happen in Havana where destitute Cubans often feel they have no other option but to remain in buildings they know could come down at any moment.
Some 3,856 partial or total building collapses were reported in Havana from 2000 to 2013, not including 2010 and 2011 when no records were kept…
Officials estimate 28,000 people live in buildings that could collapse at any moment. Some residents refuse to leave structures that authorities have declared unsafe.
“Of course we’re scared but what are we going to do?” said Yanelis Flores, 42, who rejected a government offer to move into a shelter.
“I will wait for a house,” said Flores from the eighth floor of the former Hotel Astor, which had American management and 200 rooms in the 1930s…
Across town, Leydis Castro, 77, has a leaky ceiling, but refuses to ask for a handout. “The government doesn’t have a duty to fix everyone’s house.”
Her neighbors disagreed and wouldn’t pay a cent when the city offered repairs in exchange for a monthly fee, she said.
Fidel Castro promised to demolish “hellish tenements” and build safe, modern housing when he took power in 1959.
Today, Magaly Marrero, 65, said her apartment is so bad that she showers in the kitchen and relieves herself in a bucket.
“Sometimes I say, ‘God, how long will I live in these conditions?’ This is no life,” she said. “What can I aspire to? To die buried because one day the roof comes down and crushes me?”
At least 10 people died from building collapses when hurricane Irma passed over Cuba last year. The Chicago Tribune noted at the time how many of Havana’s buildings wound up in the state of disrepair they are now in:
Most of Cuba’s grand old buildings were confiscated from the wealthy and distributed to the poor and middle classes after a 1959 revolution that promised housing, health care and education as universal rights. But with state salaries of about $25 a month and government agencies strapped for cash, most buildings have seen little maintenance in decades.
And that’s the story in a nutshell. Communists promised people housing as a universal right and the result some 60 years later is people living in tiny, substandard hovels, fearing that the next rainstorm could bring the building collapsing down on them and their children.
Incredibly, there are lots of young people in this country who think Communism or Democratic Socialism would be a big improvement over what we have now. I’m sure some of the young Democratic socialists who elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a next step toward the glorious revolution are already eyeballing apartments adjacent to Central Park. But even if they live to see it, the long-term results won’t be any better here than they are in Cuba.
Here’s a Cuban news report about a recent building collapse in May. A blog that translates Spanish-language media posted it here along with this description:
On Friday, 18 May, a the rear part of building in the Jesus Maria neighborhood of Old Havana collapsed, trapping three families who live in the building, a total of six people. The emergency services were able to rescue those trapped, bringing them out through the side, eliminating the need to mourn dead or injured victims. However, when 14ymedio spoke to them on Saturday, the residents of the damaged building said the authorities had not provided them any place to stay, despite the rains that were falling on the capital at that time.
Even if you can’t understand the narration, the images tell a story: