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Housing, Urban Renewal and Popular Power: Some Reflections on Havana

  • Author(s): Coyula, Mario
  • et al.
Abstract

Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean Islands with an area of more than 110,000 square kilometers and a population that recently reached 10 million inhabitants. Four hundred and fifty years of colonial domination and neocolonial dependence created structural inequalities throughout the territory.

At the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, Havana, the capital city, held 20% of the 6 million inhabitants of the country. Located there as well was 75% of the Island's nonsugar-based industry, most port services, health services, education, and tour­ism. This inequality between the capital city and the rest of the country stimulated heavy migration that resulted in shantytowns of marginal character with unhealthy conditions. These communi­ ties were not only removed from the lifestyle of all sectors of the bourgeoisie, but also from the proletariat. The latter, with more of an urban tradition, had become entrenched in the dense web of the ancient city center, undergoing the ghettoization that followed the exodus of the ruling classes.

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