When the Future Begins to Totter
June 24, 2013
HAVANA TIMES — Most of us know the sense of security that a roof over
one's head can afford. The home is – or ought to be –our refuge, the
place we go to get away from the world's commotion.
The air has been filled with strange vibrations these past days, there's
a murmur among people who live on the ground floors of tenement
buildings in the neighborhood of Alamar, people who have expanded their
homes into the common areas surrounding these buildings.
The situation was explained to these people in blunt, categorical terms
at a recent review meeting of their Committees for the Defense of the
Revolution: all areas of these homes that aren't part of the official
schematics of the properties will be demolished. The campaign began at
Alamar's Micro 10 Zone and will advance slowly, like a destructive tide,
across the immense suburb.
The only exceptions to be considered are cases of extreme overcrowding,
which shall be carefully analyzed.
The campaign will include garages, which only those who own a vehicle –
and use the structure to house this vehicle – will be able to keep. All
other garages are to be used by people with private businesses. There
was also talk of measures against fenced-in gardens with illegal
constructions (cement paths and floors, gates and others).
The impotent outbursts of anger, from people who built these things with
their own sweat and tears (as everything is built in Cuba), of course
It is hard to distribute something as abstract as human space fairly.
Individuals have needs that cannot be adequately captured by any law or
made to fit into an implacable registry. Once one has settled in a
private universe and imagined one's future there (with the precarious
certainty afforded by four, solid walls), picturing a bulldozer razing
part of this universe, this sacred place to the ground is indeed
This situation is the result of the terrible housing policies we endured
for years and which are only now being revoked: of restrictions which
forbade the sale or purchase of homes and legally renting out a house at
payable prices, under the protection afforded by a rental agreement.
People thus solved their housing problems with whatever was at hand.
Divorced couples, families that grew in size because of a new birth or
because relatives from out of town moved in – what could be more within
reach, for them, than their immediate surroundings?
Some of the numerous, illegal housing expansions in the area blend in
with the architecture of their surroundings. Others are excessively
lavish, emanating a kind of naïve opulence. Yet others are shoddy,
slapdash constructions, at best.
Some of the constructions that have grown skyward (or downward) seem to
defy the mysterious laws of engineering and architecture. They are like
concrete creepers that grow unchecked across the facades of houses and
buildings, covering a city crammed with filth and deteriorated structures.
I have heard that the first demolitions at Alamar's Micro 10 Zone have
sparked off violent reactions, that a patrol car was even turned over by
angered locals. I haven't been able to confirm whether this is true or not.
What I am certain of is that these bad vibrations in the air do not
presage anything good.
Source: "When the Future Begins to Totter" -