The Decay of Havana as Poetic Justice
The decay of Havana is, in part, the result of robbery. Almost no one lives in a house that their family built. Instead, they live under roofs stolen from their legitimate owners by the revolutionaries.
Left to the fate of time and the salt spray that comes from the long coastline, the bricks of traditional buildings end up chipped, the cavities burst, the walls and glass cracked. Sewage flows in the streets, and debris and garbage adorn the corners. The balconies detach from the buildings and fall on passers-by. Part of the survival instinct in Havana is to walk on the streets, instead of on the sidewalks.
Socialism enthusiasts around the world — on their pilgrimage to the Red Mecca — photograph the misery, satisfied that at least conservatives are not in power.
The “bad guys” — the capitalists, those who were entrepreneurs — built a Havana that the “good guys” — the revolutionaries, those who redistributed everything — devastated simply by inhabiting it.
Meanwhile, the Castro leadership announced this October from the Palace of the Revolution that Cuba needs to build around 20% more houses to end its chronic housing deficit, which currently exceeds 800,000 homes.
Official statistics then placed the capital as the city with the greatest problems, recording a deficit of 185,348 homes. If that figure is frightening, it hurts more to know that each building that falls takes away children, women, men, photos, dogs, and newspapers. Within the rubble, the grave of so many, the varied forms of yesterday that today’s architects will not be able to reissue also disappear. Eclecticism ends where Marxism begins.
The destruction of Havana, that Pompeii of salt, is poetic justice. There is no action without reaction, nor theft without consequence. When the generations that preceded us cheered Castro to throw them the keys to other people’s houses like the owner throws the dog a bone, no one foresaw the calamitous end reserved for the streets, the walls, the common meeting places. Nobody — to put it in keeping with the times — empathized with those who were expelled from the country, with those shot, with those under surveillance. Instead, the uniformed people and the uniformers hurried to redistribute the gates and rooms, the dishes and clothes, the engagement rings and the interior patios.
And what is there today? Ruin in the void.
It is likely that the revolutionaries who occupied the houses, and their children and their children’s children, may not understand today that ideas have consequences, and so does sin.
They desired what belonged to their neighbor, they envied, they plundered, they nationalized. They sold, bought, gave away, trafficked other people’s things.
What do your eyes see today? The void in ruins.
Something good can still come out of six decades of national embolism: a message and a mirror. The message for the feverish neo-revolutionaries that if you believe that a better world is possible, I am sorry to anchor you to the ground: a worse world is also possible.
The mirror of Havana reflects a Homs without Al Assad’s bombs, a Hiroshima without the Enola Gay, a Jerusalem without the legions of Titus Caesar Vespasianus. It’s the mirror of an island that gave itself to the libations of socialist failure.