Letter: Buildings that fall in Havana

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The Independent Online
Sir: I read Jonathan Glancey's article (20 October) on the crumbling architecture in Havana, Cuba, with great sadness. It would be a great loss to see this magnificent city disappear because the Cuban government is bankrupt.

However, Mr Glancey all too quickly blames the US government for Cuba's failings. As an exiled Cuban who had to flee the island because our family disagreed with Communism, may I remind your readers that Cuba's government has done very well at isolating itself from the international community and from its own people. Thirty-four years after the revolution the crumbling architecture only confirms that Castro has failed to bring democracy and prosperity to the island. Many human rights groups annually cite Castro's government as having one of the worst human rights records in the world.

Anyone who has family in Cuba will confirm that constant oppression, disastrous crop failures, business failures, and an over-dependence on the former USSR and former Communist governments of Eastern Europe are the real cause for the revolution's failures.

Despite Fidel Castro trying to convince the world that Cuba has one of the best health care and educational systems in the world, the reality is very different. Speak to average Cubans and they will confirm that they will happily trade medicine for the right to speak freely and that an educational system which believes that only Fidel's policies are right is a farce.

If you ask any Cuban whether he or she is interested in saving the beauty of Havana, they will no doubt agree. But saving architecture is not the most important topic in the minds of Cubans, rather when and where to get the next family meal takes top priority.

Yours sincerely,


London, N12