The Mansion, The Country


She has a five-bedroom house that is falling to pieces. She got it in the seventies when the family for whom she worked as a maid went into exile. At first she went through all the rooms each day, the interior patio, caressed the marble banister of the stairs to the second floor, played at filling the basins of the three bathrooms just to be reminded that this neoclassical mansion was now hers. The joy lasted for a while, until the first bulbs burned out, the paint started to peel, and weeds grew in the garden. She got a job cleaning a school, but not even six salaries for such a job would have been enough to maintain the ancient splendor of this house that seemed increasingly larger and more inhospitable.

Thousands of times, the woman in this story thought of selling the house inherited from her former employers, but she would not do anything outside the law. For decades in Cuba a market in housing was prohibited and it was only possible to exchange properties through a concept popularly known as a “swap.” Dozens of decrees, restrictions and limitations also arose, to regulate and control this activity, making moving an ordeal. An all-powerful Housing Institute oversaw the completion of a string of absurd conditions. With so many requirements, the procedures were strung out over more than a year, such that before families could go live in their new homes they were exhausted from filling out forms, hiring lawyers and bribing inspectors.

Such anxieties raised hopes that the Sixth Communist Party Congress would raise the flag for real estate. When, in the final report, it said that the purchase and sale of homes would be accepted and all that remained was to legally implement it, hundreds of thousands of Cubans breathed a sigh of relief. The lady with the mansion, at the moment it was announced, was sitting in front of her television avoiding a drip falling from the ceiling right in the middle of the living room. She looked around at the columns with decorated capitals, the huge mahogany doors, and the marble staircase from which the banister had been torn out and sold. Finally she could hang a sign on the fence, “For Sale: Five-bedroom house in urgent need of repairs. Wish to buy a one-bedroom apartment in some other neighborhood.”

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79 thoughts on “The Mansion, The Country

  1. L.Bisbe: “Envy was and still is the root of all our problems”

    Ain’t that the truth!

  2. Well, if we take into account that the house was not “her house” to begin with- If we take into account that the real owners didn’t abandon the “mansion” but really had to go or else…if we understand how people who worked hard all their life found themselves suddenly penniless and almost starving in Miami or Spain or another God forsaken country due to the basically illegal nature of a band of criminals with Fidel Castro as “Comandante en Jefe” telling all the fools how the “low down bourgeois” i.e. very numerous cuban middle class- have to be exterminated like roaches because Fidel really wanted to destroy cubans which he despises to this day because he was and still is an outsider, if we add how the so called Castro’s fortune was very limited and not enough for such a large family composed of legitimate and illegitimate children intrinsically not too talented or hard working by nature and inclination-if we try to understand just a little the ones who left not by choice but by force, if we become conscious of how hard it is to be in exile and see our parents and grandparents missing the motherland full of fallen dreams and melancholy,languishing for everything, every memory and every friend left behind…then maybe we can beging the healing process and understand each other better.Envy was and still is the root of all our problems.

  3. Just like the lady with the mansion You wrote, with such a passion, about.

  4. @#74
    so the truth comes out, u r lazy & rather than work u take the easy way … good little boy, very good … for a worm

  5. I don’t need any job. If I need money I sell banister, door, or something from my mansion.

  6. @#72
    no … u are a young inexperienced fool who needs to grow up.

  7. Albert, You are right. I have to much time on my hands, but also I must say, some Cuban blogers have to much time on the job.

  8. Mandy Marcelo when You wrote: “Living within our means is the common sense thing to do, whether we live under a democratic capitalist or communist non-capitalist government.”, I agree with You at 100%. Cubans want to live as Americans do. That is O.K. Problem is how they want to do it with GDP income of 10 000 dollars per capita versus 50 000 in USA. Cuba is five times poorer than USA and Cubans want to live like Americans. Sorry pal, can’t be done. Or maybe can. In Finland lives 5.5 mln. people and GDP is 45 000 dollars. They are up there in the north, like Alaska, and they manage to grow their own food. How do they do it? They work. On the other hand, Cuba has 11 mln. people and GDP less than 10 000 dollars, and no winter, so the growing food should be easy. Well, Cubans do not want to work. They just talk about how hard is to get food and how oppressed they are.
    I’m not greedy person and if somebody gives me an airplane, which I can not afford to keep, I’ll gladly trade it for the bicycle. Thank You very much. That is what this lady with the mansion ought do. Trade mansion for little apartment. Well, she was greedy and it serves her right.

  9. Mandy Marcelo when You wrote: “Living within our means is the common sense thing to do, whether we live under a democratic capitalist or communist non-capitalist government.”, I agree with You at 100%. Cubans want to live as Americans do. That is O.K. Problem is how they want to do it with GDP income of 10 000 dollars per capita versus 50 000 in USA. Cuba is five times poorer than USA and Cubans want to live like Americans. Sorry pal, can’t be done. Or maybe can. In Finland lives 5.5 mln. people and GDP is 45 000 dollars. They are up there in the north, like Alaska, and they manage to grow their own food. How do they do it? They work. On the other hand, Cuba has 11 mln. people and GDP less than 10 000 dollars, and no winter, so the growing food should be easy. Well, Cubans do not want to work. They just talk about how hard is to get food and how oppressed they are.
    I’m not greedy person and if somebody gives me an airplane, which I can not afford to keep, I’ll gladly trade it for the bicycle. Thank You very much. That is what this lady with the mansion ought do. Trade mansion for little apartment. Well, she was greedy and it serves her right.

  10. @#61
    And the Cuban astronaut was filmed in US studios as well; is just that our resident clown spoke out of script. I am sure the millions reading this blog appreciate his silly contributions as I do …

  11. @#60
    ha…ha… thanks for the laugh, by the way, u know earth is flat right? I really think u have a future in comedy.

  12. @#63- How was she lucky? She could live in it, but not maintain its upkeep as for whom the house was designed (people who could afford it). After chunks of the mansion missing, the banister sold, there is a lesson here. Even in a mansion, one’s quality of life can go down. Way down.

    Further, your “what if” is incorrect that she would be in a mansion at all in the U.S.; with her sub-par salary, even to a predatory lender, she never would have qualified for mansion ownership. How would she have come up with a down payment for the house? Monthly mortgage payments? Furnishings? Property taxes, while a problem for someone so poor, would be the least of them.

    Living within our means is the common sense thing to do, whether we live under a democratic capitalist or communist non-capitalist government.

  13. She was very lucky. For so many years she could live in such mansion making very little money. In USA she would be out of that mansion after one year, for she couldn’t afford to pay taxes, which every home owner must pay every year.

  14. Love Cuba, don’t bother with Damir. He doesn’t know. He meant 270 deg Fahrenheit, witch is not enough to cook chicken. In space and on the Moon there is no air so heat transfers much slower. Radiation he got wrong also. There is lot of radiation in Van Allen’s belt, but travel through that belt takes only couple of hours. Before and after belt radiation is at the level of radiation on Space Station witch doesn’t kill astronauts. Don’t worry about him. This blog i about Cuba and not space exploration anyway. Let’s stick to the subject.

  15. Damir says: “The temperature on the sunny side of the Moon is 270 degrees Celsius. Cooling power needed to keep them from being cooked alive would require a cooler that even with today’s knowledge and capacities would be of enormous size.”

    Damir, your pearl of a theory would mean none of the spacewalks from 1965 to 2011 ever occurred. You think those early Russian flights and the space shuttle flights are all filmed in the same studio?

  16. Further news are confirming confusion among the “democrats” and “freedom fighters” that are usurping the govenment of usa.

    It took three days to publish the “truth” that osama bin laden was not really armed, and that the “fierce fighting” never occured.

    Apparently only one person in the house had a hand gun.

    Some “fierce fighting”.

    And yes, the “moon walk” was a farce too. Not according to Damir, but according to NASA itself. In 1998, the “New Scientist” (September issue if I remember correctly. It was black and yellow front page) An article appeared, presenting the work of an astrobiologist/astro physicist, a doctor of science, an Australian scientist. Her study was dealing with one serious problem space wannabee conquistadores are facing: lethal radiation.

    Her study revealed that in 1998 no one on earth had technology that would protect the space crew from radiation, ona voyage to say Mars.

    Her study revealed that no human being would survive levels of radation above and beyond Van Allen’s belt after being exposed to it for 7 (seven) days or more.

    Her study also revealed that to provide effective protection to the crew, the walls of such a spaceship would have to be built at least 5 centimetres thick if lead was used. But lead is soft, so steel is the only option, and steel shell would have to be over 15 centimetres thick. Such a ship would be so heavy, it would never take off.

    How is that a proof?

    The Moon is outside of the Van Allen belt, and EVERY mission to the Moon lasted around nine (9) days, or more.

    If the said scientist was correct, and there are no reasons to doubt her findings since results have been confirmed several times over since then, then EVERY single member of every mission that had supposedly “walked” on the Moon should have died soon after their return to Earth due to their exposure to the radiation.

    The choice si simple here: either be stupid and believe in brainwashing propaganda, or go to school and get the knowledge and make your own mind up.

    You can also go to your ocal radiologist, ask them how much radiation from the x-ray would they be exposed to if they did not hide outside while taking your picture. And then compare that with what those “cosmonauts” had received in a day.

    And lived…

    Do also remember that every “moon walker” walked in broad daylight on the Moon. The temperature on the sunny side of the Moon is 270 degrees Celsius. Cooling power needed to keep them from being cooked alive would require a cooler that even with today’s knowledge and capacities would be of enormous size.

    But I am throwing the perls to the pigs again…

  17. And people complained about the lenght of my posts! Next to Damir’s they look like a Haiku poem! At least mine were from reputable news sources! What can we say about his rants! NUTCASE comes to mind!

  18. Damir, I must commend you for the amount of time and thought that goes into your posts. I have to say I’m surprised the CIA hasn’t got to you yet, how does Obama let you get away with telling the truth? I guess you must be hiding in a fortified bunker somewhere.

  19. REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS: Thirty-eight heads of state and warlords sow terror among journalists Published on Tuesday 3 May 2011.
    Predator:Raúl Castro , President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers, Cuba
    Fidel Castro passed the reins of power to his younger brother Raúl, the defence minister, five days after falling ill on 26 July 2006 and undergoing a major operation. Formally confirmed as President of the Council of State on 24 February 2008, Raúl has behaved little better than his brother as regards human rights, and the harassment of independent journalists and bloggers has never stopped. It includes police brutality, summonses and searches by State Security (the political police) and detention for short periods.

    The page has nonetheless been turned on the “Black Spring” crackdown of March 2003. From July 2010 to March 2011, the regime freed a total of 52 dissidents jailed during the crackdown, a third of who had been running or working for small independent news agencies. Most of them had to agree to forced exile (in most cases in Spain) in exchange for their release. Long one of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists, Cuba ceased to have any journalists in detention in April 2011 when it released Albert Santiago Du Bouchet on condition that he take a one-way ticket to Spain. He had been held for two years

    http://en.rsf.org/predator-raul-castro,37206.html

  20. This video shows the declarations of José Daniel Ferrer García, Pedro Argüelles Morán the last two group of 75 prisoners who were released. Just as the Damas de Blanco in Santa Rita on May 1 when the entire transportation system paralyzed in the Cuban capital. Many ladies walked many miles to reach this day. Also reflected the testimony of Berta Soler Fernández, White Lady and wife of Angel Moya, who was beaten on 30 April in Havana by agents of State Security. Héctor Maceda Gutiérrez Group 75 and his wife Laura Pollan Toledo sent a message to the world and the Cubans.

    YOUTUBE: Damas de Blanco en Santa Rita el 1ro de Mayo

  21. 600 DEGREES: 17-minute documentary about the demise of the Foundries in San Jose de Las Lajas ( written and directed by Yoel Rodríguez López, a graduate of cultural studies at the Agrarian University of Havana and MA in Sociocultural Anthropology. This material is a valuable document that contains in itself a part of history, a current reality, a process, a way of relating, a sense of loss and endurance time.

    600 GRADOS: Documental de 17 minutos acerca de la muserte de Las Fundiciones en San Jose de Las Lajas con guión y dirección de Yoel Rodríguez López, graduado de estudios socioculturales en la Universidad Agraria de la Habana y máster en Antropología Sociocultural. Este material constituye un valioso documento que recoge en si mismo parte de una historia, de una realidad actual, de un proceso, de un modo de relacionamiento, de una sensación de pérdida y a la vez de resistencia.

    YOUTUBE: Documental cubano : +600°

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