Saturday, March 19, 2011

Two faces of Neptuno

Two Faces of Neptuno

Cuba has two faces: the one for tourists and travel agencies, like the ones we know very well in Canada. The second and hidden face is neither any of those whose the travel agencies show on their traditional Cuba’s catalogues nor any that Canadians know.

Here is Havana, Cuba’s capital city and its downtown. The two corners depicted in the pictures show the two faces of my country: one for tourists (on the right), the other just for Cubans (on the left). (*) 

The picture on the right side shows Parque Central Hotel, proudly built by the well known Cuban historian Eusebio Leal, a very well renowned Castro’s official when it comes to Old Havana’s restoration projects… only for tourists, of course.

The main entrance of the hotel faces Neptuno street, probably the busiest and most important street in downtown Havana. Neptuno runs from here to the very front of the famous stairs of Havana University: a reference in many historic events in our history.

This hotel is settled in a pretty environment, mostly decently repaired by Castro for his favourites citizens: the tourists. Located in front of Havana’s Central Park (“Parque Central in Spanish) called after its name. And one block away you can find one of the oldest theatres in Havana, and probably in Cuba, Garcia Lorca Theatre: usually where Alicia Alonso presents her classic ballets.

Five blocks away, whatsoever, in the very corner of Neptuno and Galeano you are facing the monstrosity showed on the left. The remains belonged far away in time to a multifamily building destroyed by its lacks of maintenance, the harshness of the time and the weather and the irresponsibility of a government who is only concerned to build beautiful resorts and hotels to its foreigner visitors.

The story of those crumbling remains are the same story of Parque Central Hotel in the past, because that flamboyant amenity was built over the remains of another multifamily building like the one you see on the left picture. The only different is the location and it makes a huge difference according to Castro’ standards.

Parque Central Hotel is located in a touristic zone appropriated to the pretty face Cuba’s government wants to sell to the entire world. The other building is surrounded by buildings inhabited by Cubans: a surrounding pretty much unsellable to the Cuba’s perfect pictures on the pages of any travel agency magazines.

Two different faces for a government who practices two different policies and standards in everything: human rights, education, health care and even in construction businesses.

Cuba on the right only exists on magazines to Castro’s tourists. On the left, you have the actual Cuba… for the Cubans only.

(*) Nota: The pictures were taken in September 4th, 2010


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