Thursday, June 27, 2013

Guantanamo, Cuba Has Its Shanties Too

Guantanamo, Cuba Has Its Shanties Too
June 26, 2013
Rosa Martínez

HAVANA TIMES — According to Isbel Diaz Torres, the writer of one of
Havana Times' diaries I enjoy reading the most, Indalla is a shantytown
located in the very heart of the Cuban capital which not even the
president of its municipality knew existed.

I do not live in the capital. In fact, I live in the province which is
furthest from Havana, in my beloved Guantanamo.

Though some refer to my province as "Cuba's Cinderella", my city is
really not much different from other provincial capitals around the
country, with the possible exception of Havana, Santiago de Cuba, the
second most important city on the island, or, say, Matanzas.

Like most of the country, Guantanamo is still recovering from the
effects of Cuba's Special Period, a crisis which lasted far too long and
damaged a good part of the provinces' economic infrastructure.

It is also suffering the effects of a centralized economy that hasn't
yet been able to address the needs of the population, particularly of
those populations in the regions furthest from the capital.

Here in Guantanamo there are many Indallas, and I imagine all provinces
have at least one shanty neighborhood of this nature – areas of the city
where poverty, despair and hopelessness reach veritable extremes.

I myself live in a Indalla, surrounded by shabby, makeshift houses that
threaten to collapse at any moment, by people with a high rate of
alcoholism, unemployment, delinquency and all forms of violence.

I don't know whether we need an outbreak of cholera to draw a government
authority to this neighborhood which even the gods have forsaken. I
don't know whether the houses here need to collapse entirely for their
inhabitants to finally get some kind of aid (and it would be hard to
imagine such a situation, for these houses are like trailers, assembled
and taken apart with relative ease).

What I am certain of is that this Indalla, like the one in Havana,
doesn't need the government to come and evict its residents. On the
contrary, what this neighborhood needs is for the government to include
it in its development plans, for it to make building materials
available, at reasonable prices which the population can afford, and
thus oblige people to construct homes with basic living conditions.

Source: "Guantanamo, Cuba Has Its Shanties Too - Havana" -

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