Poverty in cuba by Tosya Khodarkovsky

 Old man crossing the street

Old man crossing the street

 
 

Cuba, while beautiful and lively, presented itself with utter poverty, decaying buildings, and desperate people -- who yet were incredibly friendly and helpful. As my father and I visited the Universidad de la Habana, we came across two professors (not depicted above) who told us of their hardships in Cuba. The woman, Angela, taught pharmacy; the man taught history. The two brought us to a cafe where Fidel Castro had sat, etching into the rough-lined table, and gazing out the same window covered with fawns, pondering his revolutionary tactics. Angela explained her plight: when she was pregnant, her husband was killed in an accidental army explosion. Widowed and a single mother, she tried to fend for herself only with the meager income provided through her teaching position. But it does not suffice she says, the government gave no aid to assist her after her husband’s death. The other professor had fought in Angola for five years (offering proof by showing us a certificate with Obama’s face), but upon return, was given no aid from the Cuban government.

Walking through the streets, one finds half-collapsed buildings, pipes spewing water onto the street, and raw bricks cracked upon the sidewalks. On a particular night, one might find a line of twenty people waiting for a scant supply of fresh bread. The bread seller stands behind metal bars through which he hands out the bread to prevent people from grabbing more than their share from him. In some neighborhood stores, green plaques line the wall announcing the alloted rations of food, for example half a liter of olive oil per person.  The few markets had very limited food to offer: mainly onions, cabbage, not very red tomatoes, and garlic.Restaurants must improvise and change menu items depending on what type of ingredients they can organize. There is a thriving art scene, though, and great music and jazz places.

 
 
 View from the FOCSA building. Built in 1956 and 121 meters high, it is the tallest building in Cuba and acted as a trendsetter for more high-rise buildings. In the 1970s, FOCSA housed Soviets who turned the downstairs supermarket into a non-Cuban enterprise.

View from the FOCSA building. Built in 1956 and 121 meters high, it is the tallest building in Cuba and acted as a trendsetter for more high-rise buildings. In the 1970s, FOCSA housed Soviets who turned the downstairs supermarket into a non-Cuban enterprise.

 

Decaying Architecture

 Two men sit on the curb of a remaining structure of a building in the old part of Havana. The structure was solely supported by the erection of the interior metal framework - a common place for cats to lounge, as well.   

Two men sit on the curb of a remaining structure of a building in the old part of Havana. The structure was solely supported by the erection of the interior metal framework - a common place for cats to lounge, as well.

 

 
 Further up the street, a water pipe was spewing water directly onto the street, which held piles of broken cement blocks and bricks.

Further up the street, a water pipe was spewing water directly onto the street, which held piles of broken cement blocks and bricks.

 
 Another building that was falling apart. People would still live in places that would be deemed dangerous, homes where the door of an apartment would open to a gaping abyss rather than a flight of stairs.

Another building that was falling apart. People would still live in places that would be deemed dangerous, homes where the door of an apartment would open to a gaping abyss rather than a flight of stairs.

 
 View from a café situated in the housing complex for students at the  Universidad de la Habana. Fidel Castro supposedly planned the revolution in this café, his markings still noticeable on the table.

View from a café situated in the housing complex for students at the  Universidad de la Habana. Fidel Castro supposedly planned the revolution in this café, his markings still noticeable on the table.

 
 While walking around the University, my father and I came across these two teachers. The woman teaches pharmacy and the other history. They brought us to the cafe for a drink and began to tell their stories. The man had trained and fought in Angola for five years (insisting upon the validity by showing us a certificate with Obama's face), but when he came back, he was given no aid whatsoever from the Cuban government. The woman explained that while she was pregnant, her husband was killed from a car explosion during his time in the army. Not only is she now a single mother, but she has to fend for herself through a meager income provided from a teaching position. Although, this could have been a scam, it still showed the depth of poverty currently in Cuba.

While walking around the University, my father and I came across these two teachers. The woman teaches pharmacy and the other history. They brought us to the cafe for a drink and began to tell their stories. The man had trained and fought in Angola for five years (insisting upon the validity by showing us a certificate with Obama's face), but when he came back, he was given no aid whatsoever from the Cuban government. The woman explained that while she was pregnant, her husband was killed from a car explosion during his time in the army. Not only is she now a single mother, but she has to fend for herself through a meager income provided from a teaching position. Although, this could have been a scam, it still showed the depth of poverty currently in Cuba.

 
 The teachers also showed us a table for food rations set in a local shop

The teachers also showed us a table for food rations set in a local shop

 

Colors

 Two men working on a building.

Two men working on a building.

 
 Beautiful colors of Havana.

Beautiful colors of Havana.

 
 Often times the vivid colors of the cars would match the painted buildings.

Often times the vivid colors of the cars would match the painted buildings.

 
P1160268.jpg
 

Scarcity of Products

 Tomato Soup.

Tomato Soup.

 
 Canned veggies.

Canned veggies.

 
 This was a much more prized and elegant store, as seen by the modern roof panels. However, the shelves were still half empty.

This was a much more prized and elegant store, as seen by the modern roof panels. However, the shelves were still half empty.

 
 A local pharmacy in the bottom stores of the FOCSA building. The shelves are bare. Upon my taking of the picture, a nurse shooed me away.

A local pharmacy in the bottom stores of the FOCSA building. The shelves are bare. Upon my taking of the picture, a nurse shooed me away.