How to Survive a Collapse? / Frank Correa
Posted on March 10, 2014
There is nothing written, except to be touched by luck. ”Suicides” that
inhabit collapsed buildings talk about the time bomb.
HAVANA, Cuba. An anonymous survivor of a collapse (he did not want his
identity leaked), in a shelter with his family in a place in Playa
township, told me the story of when part of the building where he used
to live went down.
He occupied an apartment on the second floor of a four-story building.
It was night. By luck, his wife was in the polyclinic with their son who
had asthma, and another child was in the Latin-American Stadium,
watching the game between the Industrials and Santiago with two
neighbors, who were also saved.
He says that he was alone, seated in an armchair in the living room,
watching the news, when suddenly the television and half the living room
disappeared from his view with a roar, and he saw the two upper floors
He will never forget the bulging eyes of his neighbor Leovigilda,
washing the dishes in the kitchen, when she passed downward and asked
him with signs what was happening. Then he saw the last floor pass by,
crumbled, and some woman’s legs on a bed, and a cat that was jumping
through the rubble. Later the roof passed in a jumble.
When he recovered from the shock, in the middle of a cloud of dust, he
peeked out and observed a mountain of rubble. His armchair had remained
at the edge of the abyss and he didn’t move from there until the rescue
“We inhabitants of those buildings are suicides,” he says. ”They need to
build many Alamar neighborhoods*, and get everyone out of those time
bombs, which with each minute it brings death closer.”
Where do the “creatures” that make the night live?
The housing infrastructure of Old Havana, Central Havana, Cerro and 10th
of October townships can be classified as “deplorable” because of the
age of their buildings, lack of maintenance and violation of building
standards on the part of their inhabitants who, for lack of dwellings,
subdivide the spaces without order or control in order to accommodate
In a building on Animas and Virtudes streets, which at the beginning was
designed for 10 families, 45 are living there today. And in one on
Marcaderes and Aramburen the stairway collapsed completely. The order by
the Housing Authority to abandon the building was given, but the
residents placed temporary steps and go up and down constantly putting
their lives at risk.
On Cuba and Amargura streets there is a site that resembles a beehive.
No one can calculate exactly how many people it shelters. By day a
certain number is counted, above all children who leave for school and
old people running errands, but at nightfall a legion of characters
comes out to make a living: transvestites, homosexuals, pimps,
prostitutes, and criminals.
Given the extremely poor physical condition and lack of sense of
belonging of their tenants, these old buildings ruined by time and
governmental incompetence are a breeding ground for collapses which
jeopardize the lives of the inhabitants.
*Translator’s note: Alamar is a “model community” built in east Havana
in the early years of the Revolution. A video is here.
Cubanet, 6 March 2014 | Frank Correa
Translated by mlk
Source: How to Survive a Collapse? / Frank Correa | Translating Cuba –