A Family Puts Its Belongings In The Street Amid Fears Their House Will
Collapse / 14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada
14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Larada, Havana, 4 September 2016 – After the
heavy rains that have hit western Cuba in recent days, many residents of
the capital fear an increase in the number of building collapses. Denise
Rodriguez Cedeño, 54, a resident Luz Street, between Egido and Curacao,
in Old Havana, placed her family’s belongings in the street after part
of the roof of her house caved in on Saturday.
Those who pass through the busy street, in the heart of the historic
center, can see the bundles with clothes piled up outside the building,
along with kitchenware and a fan. The Rodriguez Cedeño family made the
decision to spend their hours outdoors, in protest against the lack of
response from the institutions charged with distributing materials for
The already poor state of her home worsened with the storm that brought
heavy rains, linked to the ninth tropical depression of the hurricane
season, a weather phenomenon that caused intense rains in the west and
center of the island and moderate flooding in the coastal town of
Surgidero of Batabanó.
Rodriguez Cedeño works for Community Services and has lived in her home
for more than 35 years. The resident told 14ymedio that her housing
problems began in 2003, but she has not yet received a reply from
anyone. Right now her situation is desperate.
The anguish has led her to also pressure the authorities with the
warning that she is not going to send her grandchildren to school this
Monday, when the new school year begins nationwide, because she does not
have the conditions to guarantee them a “home.”
“For thirteen years I have been asking through a technical report for
repairs to my house, but they always tell me there are no building
materials,” she says. On other occasions, Rodriguez Cedeño has chosen to
“make repairs with my own resources,” but the deteriorating economic
status of the family, made up of “four women and two little girls who
have chronic asthma,” has prevented her from being able to make the
arrangements to do it herself.
After several hours in which the women stayed with their belongings in
the open street, the authorities of the Council of the Municipal
Administration (CAM) of Old Havana arrived, to learn what damage
occurred in the house and to call for calm. Dozens of people, especially
foreigners passing through the city, were filming what was happening.
The directors of CAM explained that the family would be located in a
Transit Community (a shelter) for about seven days and then taken to
inhabitable housing in another community for people whose homes have
been declared uninhabitable or have collapsed.
Rodriguez Cedeño had spent the whole night between the street and the
half-ruined house, waiting for the authorities keep their word this
Sunday. She warned that they would “plant themselves in the street
again” if they didn’t provide a permanent solution to her case.
In their current situation, these residents of the Old Havana
neighborhood have become part of the 33,889 families (132,699 people)
across the country who need a home, many of whom have spent decades
living in shelters for victims. The population census of 2012 showed
that 60% of the 3.9 million existing housing units on the island are in
During the last session of the National Assembly of People’s Power, in
July, the deputies met in the Standing Committee on Industry,
Construction and Energy, and agreed that “the housing problem is the
number one social need in Cuba.” The parliamentarians criticized “lack
of coordination, integration and priority” at the municipal level in
managing the demands of the population in terms of applications for
materials and construction permits.
In the first half of this year, at least 90,652 people who have received
subsidies for construction work have gone to the stores selling
materials. However, only 52,000 have been able to buy all of the
materials they were assigned, due to shortages of key products such as
steel, cement blocks, bathroom fixtures, tiles and roofing.
Source: A Family Puts Its Belongings In The Street Amid Fears Their
House Will Collapse / 14ymedio, Yosmany Mayeta Labrada – Translating