HAVANA, January 24. The façade of a ruined building located in the vicinity of the Saratoga Hotel collapsed, according to the documentary filmmaker of Salvadoran origin, Jorge Dalton, reported on social networks.The property was located on the corner of Dragones and Monserrate streets, right in front of the emblematic Teatro Martí.
“That facade collapsed and I doubt it can be saved. Many people have not even heard about it yet, because for the few passers-by who walk through that disaster area, landslides are an everyday occurrence and others are no longer interested,” Dalton explained on Facebook where he shared several photos showing how the area, which was with scaffolding and in which access was prohibited.
“The painful and unhappy landscape of that area is just a small sample of the 65 years of a model more outdated than an old and patched spring mattress, useless and rusty, where everything is apathy, hopelessness, destruction and desolation,” added the son of the important Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton.
The source added that the building next to the damaged Saratoga Hotel has already been demolished.
“This metastasis is also compounded by the dire state of what was once one of the most beautiful parks in Havana, the Parque de la Fraternidad.
The only fraternity that exists there today is among the garbage, the broken benches, the sorrow, the affliction, the despair, the sadness, the brokenness, the melancholy and the beggars who inhabit that place where one day, already very far away, “A beautiful bird landed,” Dalton concluded.
“The bad is over, now the worst is coming”; “And they go for more”; “They said that they would first sink the island and turn it into ruins before leaving power…And they are fulfilling it,” were some opinions of Cubans resigned to the ruins of a Havana that break the hearts of its inhabitants every day.
At least 23 buildings suffered damages of varying degrees after the explosion that on the morning of May 6, 2022, destroyed a good part of the Saratoga Hotel and left 47 dead and 99 injured.
The emblematic Martí Theater was one of the properties that suffered structural damage, although it was later rehabilitated.
In May 2023 – a year after the tragedy – the Cuban authorities finally began to demolish the homes located at Prado 609, destroyed by the powerful explosion.
In January of last year, the government handed over eight homes to families in the Zulueta buildings 508 and 512, between Monte and Dragones, which were also destroyed.
Attributed to a gas leak during its transfer to the hotel facilities, which were undergoing maintenance operations to open after being closed during the coronavirus pandemic, the explosion mobilized the country’s highest authorities and represented a turning point in the perception of Cubans about the hotel businesses in the hands of the Grupo de Gestión Empresarial S.A. (GAESA), held by the military.
Once the rescue work was completed, specialized architects and engineers assured that the Saratoga structure could be saved to undertake a second restoration of the property, a restoration that is underway.