The disturbance that came from number 70 Factoría Street between Corrales and Apodaca, in Old Havana, stopped for several days. On Wednesday, nearly a hundred people living in the building were evicted due to the danger of collapse, a threat they have lived with for years after illegally occupying the building.
Due to the darkening of the façade due to moisture and some areas of yellow-ocher color that remind us of its former beauty, the three-story building with a beautiful strut barely preserves part of the original ceilings. “It has been declared uninhabitable for a long time, but the need is great,” admitted Carmita, a neighbor from the other side of the sidewalk who fears every day “that this ruin will end up ahead and cause an accident.”
According to the woman, “all these bricks you see here on the doors and windows should be the wall of the door.” In this way, the authorities of the Housing Directorate want to prevent the building from being filled again with residents after the neighbors living there were evacuated when the structure became unstable. “But they didn’t do it well, people found a way to get in.”
Most of the settlers are from the province, are homeless and do not have an identity card with an address in Havana.
Despite the balconies without bars, the orphan doors and the windows without blinds, the need means that in a short time the noise of families, the cries of children and the barking of the occasional dog came to life. Most of the settlers are from the provinces, are homeless and do not have an identity card with an address in Havana.
Fleeing the misery of eastern Cuba, in the corridors of the old palace they were heard talking fongo, hammering wood to prevent rain from seeping into babies’ cribs, playing dominoes when a daytime blackout paralyzes life, and fighting when the next-door neighbor takes advantage of the distraction and moves across the dividing wall and a few centimeters to someone else’s house.
Now they are gone. According to Armando, an elderly retiree, who this Monday wore his pants rolled up to avoid the puddles that splashed all over the road, “they took them to different shelters in San Agustín, Altahabana and Santiago de las Vegas.” Others “were sent back to their home provinces,” he added, though he wouldn’t be surprised if “they took time for things to calm down and come back.”
At first, when they took over the demolished building, unity prevailed, but as the months passed, overcrowding and neighborhood problems raised the temperature inside the rooms. Fights and ongoing scandals led Factoría 70 to gain the reputation of a controversial place, a place to avoid and cross the sidewalk when walking down the block. Being located in the neighborhood of Jesús María, fame like this is worth two.
Neighbors exchanged feelings. “If it’s not because of the most difficult need, no one can enter a place so that you don’t sleep for a moment when the roof falls on you,” said a woman who lives on the corner, on Corrales Street. “Poor people, who know what they’ve been through, but it’s true that it’s ugly here and the fights are constant.”
On the basement floor of the building, a mechanic’s workshop remains open as if to avoid risks. “No, this place is not in danger of collapsing,” one of the shop’s employees summarized before re-entering an area where an immaculately restored antique car sat in a deep ditch. pink color replaces the wood that supports the upper floor and a huge mountain of garbage and debris from the floor above.
The smell of garbage soaked by the rain of recent days reinforces the feeling of abandonment and loss of property. Outside, the old folding metal doors that once gave way to a thriving business stand with some dignity against the surrounding destruction. They no longer go up or down and they no longer protect bags of beans, various preserves or chocolate. They were paralyzed by the improvised brick barrier that was supposed to prevent people from entering the building.