Fearing Building Collapse, Many In Cuba Sleep Fully Clothed, Some Stay Up

Fearing the building collapse, many people in Cuba sleep fully clothed, some stay

This year, the first rains of June caused 146 buildings in Havana


“When we go to sleep, we fear we won’t wake up,” said Elisa Bacyan, a resident of one of about 700 allegedly unsafe apartment buildings in the Cuban capital, where collapses are frequent. again.
Bacyan, 51, lives alone with his daughter Lesyanis, 12, in an old town building called “Edificio Cuba” that dates back to 1940.

The six-story building is owned by the State of Cuba, like most other buildings on the communist island. It has 114 small rooms, which have 92 families free to rent.

It used to be a luxury hotel, residents say.

Today, floorboards are broken, ceilings, columns, and walkway walls reveal twisted metal skeletons, and lots of cracks and leaks.

Children “can’t even play here, because every now and then a piece (of the building) falls,” Bacyan said, tears welling in his eyes.

“I lost a child” to illness, Bacyan told AFP. “I don’t want to lose my daughter either.”

– ‘Not recommended’ –

Due to a lack of supervision and maintenance, buildings completely or partially collapse in Havana with shocking frequency, even more so during the stormy season from June to November.

In 2020, a balcony gave way, killing three young girls.

This year, the first rain of June caused 146 buildings in the capital to partially collapse and two completely, resulting in the death of a 69-year-old man.

No one knows who will be next.

Official figures show that around 37% of the 3.9 million residential buildings in the country are considered to be in undesirable condition by the end of 2020.

One construction expert, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal, told AFP that Bacyan’s house, “Edificio Cuba,” had “floor-to-ceiling structural defects”.

“Do not recommend people to live there.”

In this building, as with many others, the temporary addition of mezzanines, bathrooms and water tanks greatly increases the load they are built to withstand.

– ‘No reply’ –

Cary Suarez, 57, moved to “Edificio Cuba” in 1997 after her former apartment complex became one of the statistical points of the collapse.

She went out, took the children to school, but her mother, who stayed at home, died.

“Having lived all this and being on the verge of collapse is very difficult,” she said.

Francisca Pena, 54, sought relief from the authorities on behalf of residents.

“We have exhausted all the avenues and we have no response,” she told AFP.

Pena said she sleeps fully clothed in case she has to give birth in the middle of the night.

She said there have been several occasions where residents have rushed to the street after hearing a suspicious “noise”.

“I have dark circles under my eyes, I don’t sleep,” said Luvia Diaz, a 50-year-old social worker who lives on the top floor of the building. “Edificio Cuba” with his partner, three daughters and a grandson.

Earlier this month, rain caused a patch of her bedroom ceiling to fall off, lying on an empty bed.

“If my daughter slept there, it would be a tragedy,” she said.

Another resident, who only identified herself as “Pumpa,” was there when part of the building collapsed 29 years ago, when she was just two years old.

A piece of the ceiling hit her in the head and Pumpa had to undergo complex skull reconstruction surgery, she told AFP while cleaning out her apartment.

“I’m afraid to live here… The second time I won’t be saved,” she said.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and was automatically generated from the syndication feed.)

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