Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Cubanos denuncian deterioro en sus viviendas y falsas promesas oficialistas

Cubanos denuncian deterioro en sus viviendas y falsas promesas oficialistas
20 de septiembre de 2016 - 18:09

Escaleras destruidas, baños sin techos, ausencia de agua y paredes a
punto de colapsar son algunos de los inconvenientes que Luis Alberto
Lavenia y sus vecinos deben sortear diariamente para vivir en un antiguo
edificio habanero

LA HABANA.- Una grupo de vecinos cubanos mostró las graves condiciones
en las que se encuentran las viviendas que habitan, ya que el Gobierno
de Cuba prometió en enero de este año ayudar con las reparaciones pero
hasta ahora no ha habido avance alguno en el inmueble.

Escaleras destruidas, baños sin techos, ausencia de agua y paredes a
punto de colapsar son algunos de los inconvenientes que Luis Alberto
Lavenia y sus vecinos deben sortear diariamente para vivir en un antiguo
edificio de La Habana.

"Según el gobierno nos prometió que nos iban a arreglar el baño, desde
el 15 de enero, mira cuantos meses han pasado y no ha venido nadie a ver
cómo estamos (…) No hay preocupación del gobierno de ningún tipo",
aseveró Lavenia, en un video publicado por el periodista Yusnaby Pérez.

"La única respuesta que nosotros hemos recibido de vivienda es que nos
dicen que no estamos en el Plan Nominalizado 2016", indicó Elianis Díaz
Chapman, otra de las personas afectadas por el deterioro de la

Agregó que periódicos como el Gramma y Juventud Rebelde han publicado su
situación, "pero todo se ha quedado allí", ya que ningún dirigente o
ente gubernamental se ha encargado de visitarlos para solventar la
fuerte situación que atraviesan.

Los vecinos han optado por protestar colocando grandes carteles en la
entrada del edificio, donde piden al gobierno cubano que les otorguen
viviendas dignas. Advierten que de no conseguir respuesta llevaran su
solicitud hasta la Plaza de la Revolución.

Source: Cubanos denuncian deterioro en sus viviendas y falsas promesas
oficialistas | Cuba -

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Tarará’s Thousand And One Stories

Tarará's Thousand And One Stories / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 17 September 2016 – "This was my house,"
says Elena, a Cuban-American who returned to the island this week and
visited the place where she spent her childhood. In Tarará she took her
fist steps, but the place barely resembles the residential neighborhood
of her memories. In five decades it has passed from being an enclave of
rich people to hosting a teacher's training school, a Pioneers camp for
schoolchildren, a sanatorium for children affected by radioactivity, and
a tourist's villa.

In the town, located east of Havana in a beautiful coastal area, the
city's crème de la crème settled in the middle of the last century. None
of the residents of the 525 houses of this little paradise could imagine
that soon after the titles of their homes were released, only 17
families would remain there and the rest would emigrate or lose their
property after Fidel Castro's coming to power.

"My father bought the parcel with great enthusiasm, he always said that
he would live his last years here," recalls Elena now. She walks around
the house that has lost all the wood of its doors and windows. Weeds
have taken over the terrace area and on the floor of the main hall there
is evidence of the many bats that sleep in the room every night.

A man sweeping the street asks the newcomer if she passed through "the
entry gate" control where visitors must pay for access to Tarará. For
five convertible pesos Elena has returned to the place of her nostalgia,
with "lunch included" in a solitary cafe by the sea.

She heads in that direction, but not before crossing herself before the
lonely church dedicated to Santa Elena, which had gotten its cross back
a few years earlier, after its having been removed during the decades
when the most rabid atheism ruled the place. "They baptized my littlest
sister here," recalls the woman in front of the chapel.

In the bar of the local restaurant the waiter tells her that during
elementary school he spent several weeks in Tarará. Although they swap
stories about the same piece of Cuban earth, they seem to be talking
about opposite poles. "I liked coming because they gave us yogurt at
breakfast and lunch, and in one of the houses I saw a bathtub for the
first time," explained the man who is now over 40.

His memories correspond to the days when the once glamorous villa had
been converted into the José Martí Pioneers City. The camp hosted
thousands of school age children every year, "they were like vacations
except we had to go to school," explained the man.

The Soviet subsidy supported the enormous complex which included a
cultural center, seven dining rooms, five teaching wings, a hospital, an
amusement park and even an attractive cable car crossing between the two
hills over the Tarará River, which is now a mass of rusted iron.

Elena, meanwhile, recalls the backyard fruit trees, the squash court,
and the softball field that filled with families on the weekends.
However, her fondest memories relate to the drive-in theater located at
the entrance to the village, which is now converted into a parking lot.
Between her memories and the waiter's are 30 years, and a social revolution.

"Now the only people who can enter are those with reservations in the
few houses rented to tourists in this neighborhood," explains the
employee. They belong to the families who resisted leaving despite all
the pressure they received. "Overnight the village filled with young
people who came to the countryside to study dressmaking," he explains.

The few residents who didn't leave "went through hell" the sweeper says.
"They had to travel miles to find a store and all around the houses were
places for dancing and checkpoints," he recalls.

A few years ago the state-owned tourist corporation Cubanacan
rehabilitated 274 houses and another state-owned entity, Cubalse, did
another 223. However, the projected tourist center hasn't taken off.
"This place lost its soul," commented the sweeper while gathering up
leaves from a yagruma tree that have fallen on the sidewalk. The plaque
marking the pier where Ernst Hemingway docked his yacht can barely be
discerned in the midst of the undergrowth.

In the nineties, Tarará was the epicenter of a program sponsored by the
Ministry of Public Health for children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear
accident. They came from Moldovia, Belaruss and Ukraine, shortly after
the economic crisis – sparked by the loss of the Soviet subsidy after
the breakup of the Soviet Union – had put an end to the Pioneers camp.

The official press explained, at the time, that Cuba's children had
donated their "palace" to those affected by the tragedy, but no one
remembers a single meeting at the school announcing the transformation
the villa would undergo.

Early in this century 32,048 patients from Central and South America and
the Caribbean passed through Tarará in the noted Operation Miracle,
funded by Venezuelan oil. They came with different eye diseases such as
cataracts and retinitis pigmentosa. They found a haven of peace in the
place where only Cuban personnel working with patients and the few
remaining residents were allowed to enter.

A decade ago 3,000 Chinese students came in turn to study Spanish and a
police school was established in the neighborhood; its classrooms are
often used to hold members of the Ladies in White when they are arrested
on Sunday after leaving Mass at Santa Rita Church, on the other side of
the city.

"This looks like a ghost town," says Elena loudly as she walks the
streets. Successive "programs of the Revolution" that filled the
neighborhood have ended and now all that's left is a development of
numerous abandoned houses and others were a few tourists take the sun on
the terraces. The beach where the visiting Cuban-American found her
first snails is still there "as pretty as ever," she says.

Source: Tarará's Thousand And One Stories / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar –
Translating Cuba -

Friday, September 16, 2016

Camagüey Neighbors Manage To Stop Work On An Official’s House

Camagüey Neighbors Manage To Stop Work On An Official's House /
14ymedio, Pedro Armando Junco

14ymedio, Pedro Armando Junco, Camagüey, 13 September 2016 — The
struggle of a small community of neighbors in Camagüey against the
allocation of a plot of land at the corner of their building to an
official from the Ministry of the Interior, has resulted in a small
victory, as they have managed to stop the work on the new owner's house.

Since 2001 there has been a plot of idle land some 200 yards from where
it is believed the first house in the city was built, 500 years ago. As
the area is large, and given the deterioration of an old multi-family
building, at the end of the 1990s it was planned to fund new
construction of a five-story building with 10 apartments. The new
housing was planned to be built under the "microbrigade" progam, [Ed.
note: See page 26 of the linked PDF] most of whose participants came
from the deteriorating structure, and they were the ones doing the work.
The project was completed and the new building was inhabited while the
old building collapsed, leaving a generous plot of land in front with
the new apartment building behind.

For more than 15 years there have been many solicitations to build in
the downtown area, but all were denied. Thereafter, the empty space has
served only as an eventual landfill.

The pleasant site to the east hosts the America Cinema, an emblematic
theater from the 1950s, a beautiful and well used entertainment venue,
and to the east Plaza Santa Ana hosts its namesake church, more than 300
years old, the oldest church on the city.

In early August, to the surprise of the locals, it was announced at a
neighborhood meeting that the vacant lot had been given to a high
official of the Ministry of the Interior. Almost immediately, a
supposedly qualified person marked off an extensive perimeter for the
construction of a private residence for the official.

Many members of the community criticized the "excessive" use of space –
around 2,700 square feet – and there was even an exchange of angry words
between a neighbor of the building and a family member of the official.
The following day backloaders and trucks appeared to clear the area and
excavate it, leaving only a few yards of space between the site and the
multifamily building to the rear.

There was no delay in registering a complaint. The building residents
and some other people from the community got together and drafted a
protest letter to the municipal government with more than 20 signatures.
The district's delegate to the People's Power, affectionately called
Angelito, offered his unconditional support to the citizen protest and
said he felt badly for not having taking into account their opinions as
the area's authority from the Communist Party base.

In the letter the residents argued that not only would the building
completely eclipse the view of the beautiful multifamily building, whose
brightly painted color scheme contributes to the atmosphere of this
corner of the city, but the narrow corridor remaining for their
circulation was dark and hidden and badly connected to the street. They
also argued that in the case of a medical emergency, a fire, or any
other emergency, it would be very difficult in such a narrow space for
an ambulance to maneuver, much less, a fire truck.

Dr. Armando Balaguer, promoter of the complaint, appeared before the
president of the municipal government and, he says, he was not treated
with the expected benevolence. The local president claimed that the
Ministry of the Interior official, Liduvina Gay Perez, deserved the land
donation because of her dedication as head of the women's prison in
Camagüey. Dr. Balaguer stressed that the demand of the neighbors was not
opposed to the individual who was benefiting from the donation, it was
simply a demand for the rights of the citizens in this small community
of families, not only with the voice and legitimate vote of their
delegate, but also because the more than 10 families affected includes
five doctors, most of whom have served on international missions
providing health care in other countries [in exchange for payments in
cash or oil to the Cuban government].

In addition, although the land is state-owned, the residents of the
building feel it is their own, and given their marked sense of belonging
their demand states that they want a playground to be built there, or a
circuit training park to fight obesity, or a fenced area for children's
sports, given that the neighborhood's children do not currently have a
place for extracurricular games. This first discussion was a failure.

Without surrendering to defeat, Dr. Balaguer met with several residents
of the building and with the delegate of the district, and they went
again in a tight group for the second time to the office of the
president of the municipal government. After some research on their own,
they learned that the Office of the City Historian, the supreme entity
in such cases, had not given its approval for the donation, which would
indicate that the gift was directly rooted in the municipal government
with the concurrence of the Department of Physical Planning.

After the clearing of the land, the excavations, and the staking out of
the perimeter, the work has been stopped. It is appears that the methods
used to arrive at the construction of the house were not the most
correct nor in accord with the aesthetic interests of the city.

See also: A subtitled film on Microbrigades in Cuba by Florian Zeyfang,
Lisa Schmidt-Colinet, Alexander Schmoeger, 2013

Source: Camagüey Neighbors Manage To Stop Work On An Official's House /
14ymedio, Pedro Armando Junco – Translating Cuba -

Ex presidente del Poder Popular Municipal, abandonado a su suerte en La Habana Cuba

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Los hombres que trepan La Habana

Los hombres que trepan La Habana
El alpinismo industrial es una riesgosa profesión. Conozca quiénes la
ejercen en Cuba
Jueves, septiembre 15, 2016 | Augusto César San Martín

LA HABANA, Cuba.- Desafiar las alturas es el denominador común de
quienes se dedican al alpinismo industrial en Cuba. Colgados de los
edificios más altos de La Habana, realizan labores de construcción que
abarcan desde la albañilería abrasiva, pintura y fregado, hasta la
restauración patrimonial.

El oficio, que está cogiendo auge, suma un centenar de "alpinistas" en
la capital. Luis es uno de ellos, que además cuenta con una experiencia
de catorce años.

"Cuando yo empecé en esto habían unos cuarenta trabajadores que nos
conocíamos todos porque salimos del mismo lugar. Ahora hay muchos más,
cerca de cien gentes trabajando que no conozco ya (…) Comenzamos a
finales de la década del 90, cuando surgió el "Grupo Especializado de
Trabajo de Alto Riesgo (GETAR), una escuela que capacitó a todos los que
querían hacer este trabajo, y nos dieron la acreditación para trabajar",
cuenta Luis a CubaNet.

La escuela perteneciente a la empresa Constructora Puerto Carenas, de la
Oficina del Historiador de La Habana, instruía en el manejo de las
técnicas del alpinismo, certificando la preparación para práctica laboral.

El grupo comenzó su trabajo con la oficina del historiador, en la
restauración del Morro de la bahía de La Habana, el edificio FOCSA (110
metros, el más alto de Cuba) y otras edificaciones como la Iglesia del
Sagrado Corazón de Jesús (Reina), catalogada como icono de ciudad por su

En la actualidad, los alpinistas industriales se independizaron y operan
mayormente en cooperativas bajo la licencia de "pintura y mantenimiento
de exteriores", prestando servicios tanto al sector estatal como al
privado. Temen hablar del tema para que "no inventen una licencia de
alpinista industrial con un impuesto alto".

Eduardo Quintana practica el oficio desde hace diez años, en
declaraciones para CubaNet, describe que "no siempre tenemos la demanda
alta; en estos momento es mala y así puede ser el hasta final de año".
La suerte actual del oficio es el contrato individual en el sector privado.

Preparación sobre la marcha

Algunos de los que incorporaron en los últimos años se prepararon en
escuelas de bomberos o de soluciones verticales, perteneciente a la cruz
roja cubana. Otros se cuelgan y aprenden sobre la marcha, un método con
mucha menos teoría que las escuelas convencionales.

La mayoría busca sentir los golpes de la adrenalina mientras se
balancean en al aire o se sostienen del marco de una ventana, con la
cintura amarrada de una cuerda.

Pero estos "spiderman" cubanos consideran que su salario es bajo para el
alto riesgo que implica su labor. "En primer lugar no es pago (el
alpinismo industrial), si te pones a ver lo que cuestan los equipos que
exige este trabajo", explica Eduardo Quintana

"La cuerdas y los arneses los tenemos que mandar a buscar fuera del país
y eso los encarece (…) Las cuerdas sufren mucho desgaste y hay que
estarlas renovando, y aquí no hay", añade.

La competencia vertical

Mientras este grupo de alpinistas verticales las inventa en el aire,
surgió una pequeña empresa cubana: Verticales ABZ. La empresa,
descriptiva de sus similares fundada por cubanos repatriados, cuenta con
avales internacionales y equipamiento de primer nivel, comprado en el

Como era de esperar en poco menos de cinco años, Verticales ABZ se
adueñó de los mejores contratos de rehabilitación de las edificaciones
de Meliá y empresas estatales con poder económico, dejando en la cuerda
floja a la vieja escuela socialista.


Source: Los hombres que trepan La Habana | Cubanet -