The other Havana


There’s a city that happens besides us without touching us. It is a Havana that talks of “Parmesan cheese” of “centimeters of turf” and “weekends in Cancun.” It’s another town that barely mixes with ours and looks nothing like the scenario of landslides and deficiencies that forms our environment.

Both “Havanas” coexist and at the same time negate each other. Those who live in one can’t imagine -in all its expanse- the other city that completes it. One runs quickly on wheels, while ours ages at the stops, waiting for the bus. The sweet Havana of opulence moves itself west, especially towards the area of Miramar, Cubanacan, Atabey and Jaimanitas. Mine, grows by jumps towards San Miguel, Diez de Octubre, El Calvario and Fontamar.

When both cities coincide and collide, they can’t comprehend each other: so far apart are the realities where they live. While one complains of its old Ikea furniture and of the difficulties in transporting the “moving container from the port,” the other one rocks in the aged chairs inherited from the grandparents and submerges in the black market.

My deteriorated Havana buys retail, talks softly and smells like sewage waters, while that city where ministers, high officials and diplomats dwell, moves between canapes, receptions, and exhales a delicate aroma of moisturizing creams.

I prefer, however, the decrepit city that I haunt everyday, since at least it is coherent and transparent like what remains in it. We have made it in our image and likeness, or rather, we are the ones that imitate it in its resignation and its misery.


  1. Dear Yoani,
    I feel that you are very brave and at the same time very good journalist, your articles are very good.
    I learned of your blog in Canada and is getting more popular every day.
    I hope other young Cubans would follow your courage and commence to express their actual opinions freely.
    Muchas felicidades en el nuevo año 2008.


  2. I had the good fortune to visit Cuba around 1994, espite the travel ban imposed by the U.S. government. What a beautiful country. It is a shame the U.S. government doesn’t lift the trade embargo and establish normal relations with Cuba.
    Good luck and Happy New Year.

  3. I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting! Look for some my links:

  4. I’ve been reading through your blog and its funny how I know exactly of what you speak. while walking through Havana everyone sees the beauty of the old building and whatever else they come up with. All I could see was europeans or people supported with outside money living well while their neighbors were just surviving. The restaurants bars and bodegas that no one could shop in except a select few. I remember thinking how odd it must be to live up the street from such a shop and not be able to afford the items inside and know they were so close yet so far. Or walk past a restaurant you cannot afford.
    Yoani I trully hope that regardless of political form that Cubas youth are given the opportunity to partake in all that the world has available today. I have not gone back to cuba since not because I turn my back on Cuba but because it was so painfull for me I was like the children walking down the street begging for something but unable to obtain it. I was begging for justice for fairness for my family and for my patria. I do hope things change.

    ah for Blettranuat there are lots of really good translators that you can get online to translate to German worst case you can use babblefish

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