Cubans in Havana under COVID-19 ‘stay at home’ orders facing increased danger from building collapses

It seems there is no safe place in socialist Cuba, especially in Havana’s crumbling buildings, which the Castro dictatorship has criminally neglected for decades. Out on the street you expose yourself to coronavirus or running afoul of the notorious State Security apparatus. But if you stay inside, you also risk becoming the next victim of a building collapse.

Via CubaNet (my translation):

Building collapses in the times of COVID-19: When the danger lies in staying home

“We all know the tragedy will happen, but no one knows when. The lethality of the virus is as real as the danger of dying from being crushed by our own home.”

Staying home may be more dangerous than exposing yourself to infection out on the street. That is how Jorge Luis Estrada and Elizabeth Valdes, a married couple living trapped between two fears, are weighing the risks: COVID-19 or the collapse of their home.

As May 20th approaches, the couple and their two young daughters relive the first of the three collapses that took place in the three-story building where they live. Reports in CubaNet covering the progressive deterioration of the structure built in 1924 and located on Damas No. 905 in Old Havana provide proof of how this family is risking their lives in this San Isidro neighborhood.

“We all know the tragedy will happen, but no one knows when,” explained Elizabeth while talking about the uncertainty her family who lives surrounded by risks faces. “The lethality of the virus is as real as the danger of dying from being crushed by our own home,” she added.

The stay at home orders force the family to listen to concrete cracking all throughout the day. Elizabeth explains that heightened fears during their isolation are causing visible harm to the mental health of the children.

“The girls are suffering through intense stress, the older one has begun to experience hair loss. When rain is forecast, the little one has nightmares of walls closing in on her.”

Some Havana residents welcome the rains of May and consider them a means of refreshing the capital, which is tormented by COVID-19. Nevertheless, for Jorge Luis and his family, the rainy season marks the beginning of an anual period of panic; they are part of thousands of Cubans who consider the rains the biggest threat to staying home or being crushed to death by it.

Due to the intense and persistent rains over the past few days, new leaks have started in the roof, further compromising the structure of the building. The humidity in the concrete increases the cracks in the walls, both inside and outside the building.

“We live on the edge of a precipice,” says Jorge, referring to the 115 feet they are above the street. “We know that when the sun comes out after the rain, that’s when it’s most dangerous,” he warns.

Continue reading (in Spanish) HERE.