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HAPPY AT 90 MILES » Drawing Havana
May
15
2009

Drawing Havana

Here’s a study of a street scene in old Havana.

habana_vieja011

It’s loosely based on a photo I took years ago and shows two constants in Cuban street life; People hanging about without anything particular to do and magnificent old buildings in Art Deco and Baroque style crumbling slowly. The idle Cuban is not lazy, rather, there’s nothing for many of them to do. In order to avoid high double digit unemployment, most Cubans are employed just a couple of days a week as there’s not enough work to go around.

In any case, this is preferable, as wages in Cuban pesos are roughly 20 dollars a month. If you can sell something directly to a tourist or give them any kind of service you can make that amount in a couple of hours. As for the housing, while cement and paint is in short supply, what really is killing Cuba’s old buildings is the fact that there is no incentive to do any upkeep. Since nobody really owns property, there’s little reason to spend your hard earned pesos to fix up a place which really belongs to the state.

Oh, and if anyone wants to protest that all this is only the fault of the American embargo, please save it for a future post I plan to do on the subject.

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2 Comments »

  • Nia says:

    (se me hace raro hablar contigo en inglés, pero ya que el blog va así y supongo que tus lectores también, allá va)

    I once had a chat with a young Cuban man who was temporarily working in Spain and he said more or less the same as you about housing. He told me that one of the reasons there is a housing problem is that if Cubans want new houses, they’re supposed to make them themselves, making the building materials appear magically, and then they can use a house which will officially belong to the government. Conclusion: everyone is living with their families.

  • IPH says:

    (je je, gracias por ser considerada con los angloparlantes, pronto sacaré la versión en castellano)
    The right to own property is definetely a cornerstone of society, it gives you a stake in it. When the Cuban people were “liberated” from the ills of private property the entire nation succumbed to the neglect and decay that always accompany government housing projects, whether the council flats in Glasgow, the housing projects in Chicago or the banlieues of Paris. If all property is theft, then no property is squalor.

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