14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Generation Y, Havana, 4 February 2020 — I was born and spent part of my childhood in a tenement in Centro Habana. I remember those nights of going to bed and shaking out of my sheets the dust that fell from the deteriorated ceilings. I also remember the care I took when climbing the stairs because a piece of the wall threatened to break loose, the sticks used to prop up some areas, and the permanent small of dampness and sewage leaking from the pipes in poor condition.
The uncertainty generated by having lived in these circumstances remains for a lifetime. It is a tremor you feel while you sleep; one eye open that never closes because plaster from the wall can end up on your pillow and, also, a gratefulness when the day dawns and you are still breathing. Right now, in this city and in this country, there are thousands of families who put their children to bed without knowing if there will be a tomorrow, because a girder can give way, a ceiling can collapse or a beam can fall down.
To those who like to separate politics from everyday life, as if what happens in a “palace” does not affect every aspect of a society, we must remind you that many of these buildings would have had a very different fate if, decades ago, their inhabitants had been allowed to appeal to more than the official channels to solve the problems they faced every day.
But like a strict father, the Cuban state wanted to possess everything and secure everything. The result: half a century of buildings that were deteriorating and being destroyed without a contractor, a cooperative or a private company being allowed to stop the debacle or build new buildings. By the time they came to open a few cracks in that monopoly, it was already late and — to top it all — the small openings in the private sector are still weighed down by a lack of autonomy, excessive bureaucracy and an official omnipresence that does not yield.
All that, because the “great controlling father” that is the Plaza of the Revolution needed to make us believe that not only did it provide us our birdseed through the rationed market, and other distributions through political privileges and ideological meritocracy, but it also gave us the roof: a rough cage that is falling to pieces.
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