Walled in New Apartments for Cuba’s Military

September 25, 2013 | Print Print |

Luis Miguel del Bahia

HAVANA TIMES — According to the official discourse, we are a poor, blockaded country with few resources at our disposal, and are unable to build all of the houses the people need. That said, our country is also just: we refuse to have a society where a few have a lot and the majority has nothing.

A good part of this is a lie and I am going to prove it. The photo you see here is of a new residential area, built in less than a year in Havana’s Camilo Cienfuegos neighborhood.

And who are to benefit from this architectural wonder, which has absolutely nothing to do with the Soviet style which prevailed in Cuba’s mono-block building era? None other than the military.

In no time, they have mobilized workers, construction machinery and materials to erect this building complex. All the while, people who have been living in shelters for decades continue to wait for decorous housing.

If these military officers did not already have homes, the whole thing would be less shameless. However, I know that some of the future residents of these new buildings are already living in more than decorous houses. They are living with their parents and grandparents, true, but so are we all in Cuba.

Why does a military officer have the right to live comfortably with his/her spouse and kids while others are forced to live in sub-human conditions? Because they defend the country? But wouldn’t such a war be an “all the people’s war?”

Food for thought:

Someone told me that, once, people in a shelter moved into one of these residential areas without authorization and there was no way to get them out. This time around, they built a wall around the area to prevent this from happening again.


What's your opinion?

  • Griffin

    The FAR runs the country. They control the ultimate levers of power: economic, political & military. The Cuba Revolution has become a reverse watermelon: it looks red on the outside, but it’s green on the inside.

  • Moses Patterson

    As a witness to the popular uprisings in the Middle East recently, the Castro oligarchy is simply shoring up the support with the military. They realize they may have to give the order to fire upon an unruly mob should Cubans ‘grow a pair’ and take their frustrations to the streets. To the extent military officers live apart from civilians under better conditions, it is easier for them to give orders to shoot. Keep in mind, the goal of the Castros has NEVER been about equality and the common good. Their goal has always been to maintain control and accumulate power. Any good that they have done in the past either served that purpose directly or, at the least, did not detract from it.

  • CUBAQUS

    Animal farm springs to mind: the pigs also slept in the farmhouse and got the beds.
    In Cuba the army has won the battle between the factions in the oligarchy. Thge parliamentary faction around Alarcon is swept aside. their share in the economy now in the hands of the military elite. That elite will buy the subservience of their power base – the troops – with special benefits ensuring that they also feel they have something to lose if the regime falls.

  • Dan

    Look at those buildings ! They’re sumptuous . Like something from Boca Raton. It would be interesting to see how just how much privilege the Cuban military has to say, the military in Indonesia, Nigeria or even the United States. To be fair, the US, being the meritocracy that it is, only the generals and admirals “live like rock stars’ (to quote Newsweek) The grunts end up at the food banks after deployments.

    • Moses Patterson

      Do you just make this stuff up in your head? On-base housing for US military families, depending upon where you are located, is always decent and well-maintained. Depending upon rank (which may or may not translate to merit) the size and accoutrements will vary. Off-base housing subsidies, again depending on where the base is located, is intended to pay for at least 75% of local housing rental costs. Stories of military personnel needing to go to food banks and/or using food stamps to make ends meet have more to do with individual family size and household expenses than it does with low pay scales. Finally, taking your “sumptuous” comment as sarcasm, you would be well to consider that by Cuba’s own estimates, an entire residential building collapses in Havana at least every two weeks. Many others, while not yet collapsed, teeter on the verge leaving their residents in constant fear. Against this reality, these ugly new buildings are indeed “sumptuous”.