Hotel Manzana, From Abandonment to the Controversy of Its Restoration /
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez
14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 20 February 2017 – People’s
memories of Manzana de Gomez vary according to how old the person is.
Cubans over 60 evoke a huge commercial center surrounded by Neptuno, San
Rafael, Zulueta and Monserrate Streets. Those under 40 see it as a dirty
place, with sewers running with sewage and destroyed windows. But the
youngest see it as a luxury hotel about to open in Havana.
In spite of the delays in the construction, everything indicates that by
the middle of this year the repairs of the centrally located building
will be finished. The Swiss company Kempinski Hotels has the rights to
manage and market the hotel, that already promises to become the most
exclusive place in the entire city, with a privileged view of Central
Park and a paradise-worthy pool on the top floor.
However, the process of rehabilitation has not been easy, as the
deterioration of the building was significant.
The restoration of the hotel was carried out by the real estate company
ALMEST, an entity of the Cuban military consortium GAESA, which assigned
the construction work to the French company Bouygues Batimet
International. The work was plagued by delays and in July of 2016, 200
Indian workers were hired to speed up the work, according to Reuters.
The French company pays the foreign workers a monthly salary of between
1,500 and 2,000 euros, while Cuban workers receive barely a tenth of
that. This situation has generated controversy and critics call the
contracting discrimination against nationals.
When the carpet is installed in the Hotel Matanza hallways and its doors
are opened for customers, the contrasts that have marked the life of the
building will have come around again. The site has been both a
commercial center and a building in ruins, a place where foreigners are
employed and Cubans work as slaves, accommodations for tourists and
place off-limits to Cubans’ wallets.
Source: Hotel Manzana, From Abandonment to the Controversy of Its
Restoration / 14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez – Translating Cuba –