Builders of the World / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado
Rosa Maria Rodriguez Torrado, Translator: Unstated
Cuba is falling apart. It's been moving for a long time without
advancing, like an old photo denied color. The architectural stock that
was "built" after 1959 is insufficient and with generally ugly designs.
However, the Cuban government sends builders to many parts of the globe
to help in the construction and reconstruction process — is it trying to
compete with the United States? — in different countries.
A long time ago in an architecture class of the program called
University for All on Cuban television, I heard a professor say that80
percent of the buildings in Cuba had been built between 1902 and 1959.
Eighty percent of Cuba was built in 57 years! What is the average built
in the last 53? I was surprised at that comment and, above all, that it
was made publicly. By the way, I have not seen more of that person in
the national media, but I do not doubt that in this age in which there
is an appearance of transparency and a certain tolerance, he may resurface.
The sloppy trail of 53 years of totalitarianism unfortunately makes up
the sociopolitical and economic morphology of the archipelago and is
reflected in almost every aspect of Cuban society. If we add our
idiosyncrasies and the influence of the leader that was too long in
charge of Cuba,the result is an explosive pattern overflowing our territory.
Too much time passed without building housing in our country as the
needs of the population demanded, and the maintenance required by the
existing housing was not provided. This society affected by the
campaigns that have to be undertaken without questioning, as in a
military camp, filled the republic with prefab boxes in five-floor
residential buildings without elevators, which looked like they had been
built with machetes. What numbers of architects and engineers have
graduated from Cuban universities to spend their active work life
reproducing typical projects?
Only the IMS* modules, of Yugoslavian construction — much taller and,
therefore, with elevators — improved this city's esthetics and the
comfort of some families, but they are insufficient.
I don't doubt that the pompousness and opportunism of our leaders,
wanting to "fix the world", will make them set their sights on the moon
and, seeing the craters of the natural satellite, will send in
solidarity a contingent of builders to fill the potholes. After all,
they ruined the country a long time ago and sprucing up the celestial
body will be a new project – a pretext that will gain them more time on
the throne of incompetence, while Cuba full of cracks goes to pieces…
*Translator's note: IMS Building Technology is a proprietary name for a
building system developed in Yugoslavia using a precast prestressed
concrete frame structure with concrete shear walls. The system is
low-cost, allows accelerated construction, and withstands earthquakes
September 19 2012