In the Midst of the Blackouts, a Luxury Hotel Without Customers Illuminates Havana
In the midst of an almost absolute blackout in Havana’s Vedado, the Grand Aston Hotel Havana seemed to have fallen from another world, less precarious and underdeveloped. All its lamps, windows, spotlights, reflectors and even humble light bulbs were at their maximum capacity, without any attention to the ominous reports of the Electrical Union.
Energy conservation is not an issue of interest to the directors of the Greater Aston, located on 1st and D streets, very close to Malecón Avenue. “The newest and most elegant” hotel in the city, according to its website, also doesn’t seem to concern the Cuban Government too much, which juggles to attract investment from foreign companies in the tourism sector.
It’s not the first time that state hotels and establishments seem to enjoy special “isolation” in the cities of the island, safe from power cuts, the misery of the people, police repression, hunger and protests provoked by all these factors.
On the same day that the Grand Aston threw its luminous aura over the darkened capital, Habaneros watched the sinister glow of the fire at the Supertanker Base in Matanzas.
Also during that day, the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric power plant announced its umpteenth exit from the National Electricity System, under the pretext of not having “sufficient water supply” and no fuel, while an acidic and heavy downpour bathed the rooftops of the city.
The torment for the Cuban people doesn’t end there. A few days before the explosion in Matanzas, the Minister of Economy formally declared war on the informal currency exchange and provoked the usual question: “If we don’t have electricity, food, well-being or a future, what are they doing with our dollars?”
Neighbors looking at the incandescent tower of the Grand Aston had to think that, perhaps, the hotel was the only place in Havana where those questions referred to a distant reality.
It is not for nothing that managers say that anyone who can afford a room at the Grand Aston will access “a refuge where they can relax and recharge their batteries, while experiencing its glamour.”
The price of the only illuminated Eden in Havana ranges between $179 and $244 per night, tropical and truly luxurious, not like the accommodations of the rest of Havanans.
The Grand Aston, as seen in the photograph, scandalously happy about a Cuba extinguished by the death, exile and hard lives of its citizens, is the most eloquent symbol of how the darkness of the country feeds the government businesses.
Translated by Regina Anavy