Instead of a Day of Mourning in Cuba, a Conga Carnival a Few Blocks From the Fatal Lamparilla Building Collapse
“Farewell, oh, oh, farewell.” The conga troupe going up and down Obispo Street this Thursday in Old Havana was the same one that every day, accompanied by stilt walkers, playing drums and singing, to cheer up the tourists, always plentiful in the historic center of the capital. The difference is that today is not like every day nor is Obispo Street just any place.
Today is just one day after a building collapsed on Lamparilla Street, taking with it three lives, those of firefighters Yoandra Suárez López and Luis Alejandro Llerena Martínez, and that of an elderly man, Ramón Páez Frómeta. And Obispo Street, where the conga is parading this Thursday, is just two blocks from the site of the tragedy, walking a little down Villegas Street.
“The dead man to the hole and the living man to the chicken”*, an onlooker exclaimed under her breath as she saw the musicians passing by, dressed in bright colors. “I’m not saying that they declare National Day of Mourning, but at least have a little respect and say: “hey, no conga today,” the lady continued.
In the corners adjacent to the collapsed building, located on Lamparilla, between Aguacate and Villegas, a strong police operation continues this Thursday, although they lifted the one at La Plaza del Cristo. When she saw the number of agents, the woman on Obispo Street said: “The only thing they are interested in is that tourists do not come to the collapse and take photos of what this place is really like.”
*Translator’s note: El Viejo al hoyo y el hombre al pollo. Popular Cuban phrase meaning someone dies and life goes on.