Centro Habana in the covid-19 collimator

Por: Lázaro Numa Águila

Centro habana

An alarming news was released on April 23rd by the capital newspaper Tribuna of Havana. Journalist Nayaren Rodríguez Socarrás reported that the municipality of Centro Habana became the highest epidemiological risk in the city. The territory achieved an incidence rate of the disease of 38.94 per 100,000 inhabitants. The People’s Council The Sites stand out as the epicenter of the Covid – 19 in the town. For this reason, the Defence Council approved a general plan of confrontation, in line with the level of complexity of each People’s Council. Measures should be taxed on achieving effective social estating as a strategy to counter transmission.

In this way it may seem “normal” from an operational point of view under the existing circumstances, but in the case of Centro Habana and Los Sitios, other analyses are needed to better understand the true dimension of the fact. Nothing comes out of nowhere, even if the catalyst comes from anywhere. This is a particular fact that deserves specific points.

Centro Habana has a territorial extension of 3.42 square kilometers, it is the smallest among the fifteen in the capital. Its population amounts to 136452 inhabitants according to the “Statistical Yearbook” of the National Bureau of Statistics (ONE) in its last edition. It is the most densely populated in the country with 39898.24 inhabitants per km2. It is fully urbanized and has 514 blocks. From an urban point of view it is considered a transit territory for its connectivity with the rest of the capital municipalities. So far only official data are used, with the logical delay of the annual closure of the ONE. In the municipality there is also an abundant illegal population, mainly in the Los Sitios People’s Council, coming from the different internal migration waves, which lives as it can and from anything, consequence of having never been a “frozen zone”, by the work and grace of neglect, this created the gap. Based on this brief data, it is clear that the population exceeds the territorial possibilities.

En las calles de Centro Habana el panorama sobrepasa la imaginación
On the streets of Centro Habana the panorama surpasses the imagination

The Los Sitios People’s Council encompasses the well-known neighborhood of the same name, crosses Reina Street to Zanja and from Belascoaín to the vicinity of Amistad Street. It is made up of a real estate heritage of the oldest in the city, conceived between the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, in a remarkable state of decline. You have never received a comprehensive rehabilitation process. It has a large number of citadels in which several generations live together in a minimum space, many still retain collective baths and a complex sanitary hygienic situation. Water supply is precarious and garbage collection, although it has been improving, still does not meet demand.  It is a palpable reality in the heart of the capital of all Cubans.

El estado higiénico sanitario y la indisciplina social es desfavorable.
The hygienic health status and social indiscipline is unfavourable.

The criminal level and social situation become complex. The street is the space par excellence of socialization. In it the last number that came out in the game of the ball is talked to, shouted, played dominoes. They polish wandering individuals and even doing physiological needs behind a column or dumpster at any time of the day. Everything in it is ideal breeding ground for the development of any epidemic.

No existen límites en la vía pública.
There are no limits on public roads.

The Covid pandemic – 19 has visualized the territorial phenomenon, but the social sciences, public health and citizenship itself have been marking it for a long time without any result. Today is not times of regret, it is time to act accordingly and measures must be extreme for the good of all. It is true that closing the municipality Centro Habana is like plugging the valves in the heart of the city. It would be fatal for transport, internal trade, they would stop working an appreciable number of state entities and demand a deployment of important forces and means, but that would keep a population mass of great consideration in their homes and under health control that is what is needed today. The measure may even be punctual within the municipality in any of its five Popular Councils, as needed, but what cannot leave room for doubt is that it is time to act more rigorously, otherwise the consequences will be greater. If we’ve already reached such an unfavorable state, there’s no other way, let’s put the end point.


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