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Cuba’s crumbling homes

The BBC takes a break from reporting about important and hard issues in Cuba like four-headed goats and the rolling of the world's largest cigar to tackle a lighter human interest story.

The Cubans without a stable roof over their heads

Collapsed building in Havana on 24 September 2013

In the Vibora suburb of Havana, a vast yellow building now has a gaping hole at the heart of it.

On Monday morning, a column collapsed bringing four storeys of the old convent crashing down and burying 50-year-old Maria Isabel Fernandez under the rubble.

For 24 hours, rescue teams battled to reach her.

When their radars and even specially trained sniffer rabbits found no signs of life, they moved to securing the rest of the ruins and recovering her body.

The story of Ms Fernandez is not an unusual one in a city where neglect, lack of funds and a series of devastating hurricanes have left chunks of the housing stock in a poor to perilous state.

Officials say that on average two buildings completely collapse in Havana every month.


It was one of the tenets of Cuba's communist revolution that everyone had the right to a house. But today's harsh economic reality has knocked a dent in that ideal.

The most recent figures reveal a deficit of some 600,000 houses on the island; this month the state housing institute admitted it cannot put up new properties fast enough.

A move to allow Cubans to build their own houses for the first time, rather than depend on the state, has been a slow starter.

The result is serious overcrowding and thousands stuck in supposedly temporary housing for many years, a situation that is especially acute in the capital.

Worst of all are the building collapses, and it is not just a problem of the suburbs.

Inside Malecon 161, on Havana's sun-soaked seafront, you have to pick your way through wooden props supporting the ceiling to reach the empty space where several apartments used to be.

It is five years since part of an abandoned building standing behind it collapsed and destroyed the apartments.

One man was killed, but 20 people are still here amid the ruins, waiting to be rehoused.

"When it rains heavily, like recently, I do get alarmed," pensioner Jose Ramon admits.

Read the entire article HERE.

1 comment to Cuba’s crumbling homes

  • asombra

    Oh, please. Whoever gets killed gets a free funeral, and collapse survivors get free health care. Move along. Although I'm not sure about the free funeral.