We are very afraid / Cubanet, Augusto Cesar San Martin and Rudy Cabrera
Cubanet, Augusto Cesar San Martin and Rudy Cabrera, Havana, 23 January
2017 – In 2014, Cuban doctor Nelson Cabrera Quinta, his wife and two
teenage children were declared illegal occupants of his home located at
No. 1705 – 200th Street in the Havana neighborhood of Siboney. The house
has been part of the family patrimony for 40 years and they have been
been permanently residing in it for 12 years.
Six months after Dr. Cabrera left on an official Cuban medical mission
in Saudi Arabia, his wife Bisaida Azahares received a notification from
the Ministry of Construction to evacuate the house immediately.
"In the resolution it says: Leave the house [and go to] to your place of
origin. We do not have options and much less a place to go… We are
afraid, we have been told so many things about the eviction, that they
are very violent people who open the doors, they break them down, they
come in and they just put you out and that's it. Imagine yourself, alone
with two children," says Bisaida.
Dr. Cabrera was warned that when he traveled abroad as a health worker,
that they were going to evict his family from the house. For a long time
that was the reason he rejected the chance to serve on several
collaboration missions, and continued to direct one of the polyclinics
in the Playa municipality. The doctor lowered his guard when the
municipal president of the People's Power assured him that while he was
on a government mission, there would be no "forced extraction" at his house.
The right to reside in a garage
The resolution of "forced extraction", the Cuban "neo-eviction," is the
result of a claim filed five years ago by the University of Medical
Sciences of Havana (UCMH) against Nelson Cabrera Quintana and his
family. According to the institution, the family lives in one of the 17
houses owned by the school in the residential division of Siboney,
considered a "frozen zone," which means the family registered as living
in the residence must be "officially verified."
The Cabrera family resides in the garage of a mansion, divided into
three units. One-third of the house was granted in 1979 to the
grandfather Gilberto Falcón Darriba, because of his work; he was a
founder of UCMH, then the Institute of Medical Sciences of Havana, where
he worked for more than 40 years.
Falcón lacked the mental and physical health to claim his property
rights when he arrived at the end of 15 years residing in the
garage. According to the provisions of the Ministry of Public Health,
the houses are granted after having been leased for 15 years, giving the
property to the lessee. Librada Arancibia, Falcon's wife was on the
verge of gaining title after her husband died in the United States,
afflicted with Parkinson's Disease.
"My grandmother was not recognized as the owner even though she
initiated the process. I have documents from various UCMH lawyers who
explicitly say that they were being deprived of the house they lived in
for more than 20 years, and that they had paid the bank for in full,"
However, UCMH recognized the right of the elderly woman to live until
the last day of her life in the residence transformed into a fortress.
Siboney, residential enclave
Each third of the residence has a different history, tied to its being
property of the UCMH. On the main floor of the house, lived Dr. Caridad
Dovale, retired from the UCMH, who emigrated to the United States in
2012. According to a document from the university center, her husband
stayed in Cuba, managing to obtain the right to the property. In 2016
Dovales returned to Cuba, was repatriated and regained ownership of the
house, as a university doctor.
The so-called "part behind," belonging to the third, was claimed by the
educational institution in 2013. Nelson affirms that Armando Hart
Dávalos (former Minister of Education and Culture) and his wife
interceded for those residents, and managed to get the eviction process
The Cabrera family asks: Why if Falcón emigrated to the US, his wife did
not get the benefit of housing, like the neighbors above? What has more
value in Cuba, citizen rights or a good godfather in the government?
The answer is clear in the Siboney area, a neighborhood full of
mansions built before 1959 by the so-called "bourgeoisie," but which
today is dominated by the government upper class.
Source: We are very afraid / Cubanet, Augusto Cesar San Martin and Rudy
Cabrera – Translating Cuba -