Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rooms with a view

As you may have read elsewhere, The New York Times has published a feature story today on what the great journal of record describes as “the bustling underground market” in homes and apartments in Havana.

According to the paper, although all property in Cuba is supposed to be owned by the socialist State (thanks, Fidel!), habaneros are “as obsessed with real estate as, say, condo-crazy New Yorkers”.

Now, while it’s pleasing to see the Times looking into the housing problems experienced by the vast majority of Cubans after 50 years of the Castro regime, I am not sure that you can quite equate the situation in Havana with New York.

At the risk of sounding like a nit-picker, it seems to me that while condo-crazy New Yorkers dream of better views over Central Park or a bigger study, the Cubans are “obsessed” about finding a room of their own. Any room. With or without views.

Which is why the photograph you see above, taken by Jose Goitia and used by the paper to illustrate the article, is spot on.
Its caption reads: “Yasunari, a student, shares this small room in Havana with her mother. It is their bedroom, living room, kitchen and study”.

4 Comments:

Anonymous "Let them eat cake" said...

Ah, well, these are third-world people, after all. They have no right to expect any better. They should just be grateful they haven't succumbed to dengue fever, malnutrition or some such aspect of their lot in life. Let's keep things in perspective, shall we? I'm sure the Cuban government would agree (whether they'd ever admit it or not is a moot point).

5:12 am  
Blogger CS said...

What I find kind of odd about the article is the way it reveals how little Cubans today know about the modern world. According to the article a lot of the people involved are getting money from overseas relatives and making these transactions as an investment, but they have no legal validity to begin with. One of them does seem to be a bit better informed, saying that he first does research to see that it wasn't the expropiated property of a US citizen, as a protection against future lawsuits.

8:17 am  
Blogger Luis M Garcia said...

Good point, CS. How can you "invest" without the legal framework that protects your investments? Interesting.

8:43 am  
Blogger Luis M Garcia said...

Good point, CS. How can you "invest" without the legal framework that protects your investments? Interesting.

8:44 am  

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