Cuban capital prepares for 500th anniversary

World Today

Havana, declared one of the world’s “New Seven Wonders Cities,” in 2014, is now showcasing its best side and colors on its 500th birthday.

CGTN’s Luis Chirino reports.

Symbolic buildings, parks and thoroughfares have been fully restored for the occasion. Other projects are still underway as part of a governmental program aimed at benefitting the city and improving the quality of life for citizens. 

“Since December 2016, we have launched a government program based on construction works aimed at revitalizing buildings and facilities which have marked or left an imprint on the city’s cultural, economic and social life,” said Tatiana Viera, Havana’s provincial government vice-president.

Restoration efforts also boosted local housing programs which will mark the city’s birthday with new homes for thousands of families who lost their homes to extreme weather. Elcida Martinez is one citizen that benefited from the program.

“I was given this home, built in less than three months, we did not have to pay a penny for its construction, so I’m deeply grateful because I now have this comfortable and nice apartment,” said Elcida.

Cuba continues to bet on its tourist sector for much-needed revenue to help its struggling economy. Meantime, new hotels are also taking part in Havana’s birthday celebration while construction projects are underway on high-rise buildings that will soon reshape the city’s skyline.

New recreational sites for the Cuban family have also been created as part of the city′s reanimation and restoration program, like the one on Havana’s coastal area. 

People come here to relax after work and also spend time with friends and family on the weekends. 

Restoration and construction efforts have been a breath of fresh air for the city, says the government vice-president. 

“We must mark this 500th birthday by expressing our love for Havana through concrete action, not necessarily a big investment but much simpler, either a sentimental or cultural gift, I mean the best we can give,”  said Tatiana.

Havana turns 500 years old with a new image carved by the hard work of its people in their effort to offer their city a more promising future.