Street Blocked by a Family

Not long ago, a Havana family decided to block a street with their belongings in a protest against the government’s failure to help them in need, despite many claims and efforts made by them. The reason? The good old housing problems: their lives and the lives of other residents of the building they were living in have been put in danger on more than one occasion after several parts of the interior of the building collapsed.

The family in their peaceful protest. Photo by Mario Hechavarria Driggs
The family in their peaceful protest. Photo by Mario Hechavarria Driggs

“I took the furniture out to the street because the kitchen and bathroom are falling into ruin,” says Ana Vivian, who is in her 38th week of pregnancy. “The government does not give a damn what could happen to us. My feet are swollen but I’m not gonna leave the street. They will have to carry me away and put me in prison with my unborn child and everything,” she shouted.

Another lady named Julia said that the floor of her bathroom was sinking, but nobody paid any attention to her when she reported the problem several times.

“I’ve already been to the Council of State, to the Municipal Housing Department and to the National Assembly of People’s Power, but everywhere I was told the same thing: ‘Comrade, we have submitted your application, now you have to wait!’ How long do I have to wait? Until the toilet bowl caves in, with me on the top?”

It was not before Saturday afternoon when a patrol car arrived with Tania, head of the Police Unit of Cuba and Chacon known as Punto 30. The officer warned the present members of the family that they were not allowed to block the street as it is seen as an act of serious indiscipline punishable under the law.

“You have to collect everything, but do not despair: a truck will come soon and it will take you to a boarding house, so calm down, everything’s gonna be resolved,” said Tania and left.

Two days later, the family were still waiting with the furniture in the doorway, but nothing had changed. The only difference in the urban landscape was that they were being watched by three policemen and a police car.