The Plaza de Armas
Leaving the Malecon, and proceeding five blocks down the Paseo de Marti, you reach the most central part of La Habana. There stand the three grandest hotels of the city, surrounding the Parque Central, in which the elderly and homeless of the city congregate. There we met Alejandro Hernandez Talavera. He had a kind smile, rough skin and soft hands. His eyes were light in the sun but deep in the shade. He told us he has family in America, a niece who works in the airport in Miami and a daughter named Jacqueline in Canada. I asked if they left him alone in Cuba but he shook his head and said that he wouldn't leave. He had fought for the Revolution, during the Bay of Pigs Invasion, he said. The young in Havana are restless, the old are grounded to their soil. He told us he would meet someone at twelve p.m. to send his daughter a package, a wrapped up bunch of "Granma" newspapers published the day Fidel passed, full of the patron's portraits, his words and his press. When we came back at twelve, he wasn't there so we wondered if anything he told was true.
The Steets of La Habana
Here on a corner street, Maria makes a living by selling plastic bags for a peso each. That's 1/24th of a US dollar. She allows Jon to take her photo, feeling less intruded hiding behind her popsicle like a shy schoolgirl. To shift the burden of the spotlight, she asks us to take photos of the woman across the street. The woman is old and eccentric, with skin forged by the restless sun and teeth broken through her never-ending battle against time.
Beggars Cant Be Choosers
Pride is apparent through the streets of Havana. The homeless on the streets beg, but they don't accept coins. Beggars can't be choosers. But the homeless of Havana are neither beggars nor choosers. Their fate is handed to them on silver plated trays. Free education and free health care, the government says. Equal access to a standard of living and free repairs of the buildings, the regime asserts. Then how come there are people who continue to starve and streets which continue to crumble? Plated silver will eventually rust.
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