Luxury Hotel Explosion Reminds World Havana Is in Ruins

Men work on a crane by the remains of the Saratoga Hotel in Havana, on May 10, 2022, days
YAMIL LAGE/AFP via Getty Images

The precarious state in which the Cuban communist regime keeps the nation’s infrastructure continues to claim lives. The death toll of the gas explosion that damaged the infrastructure of the Hotel Saratoga in Havana last week has risen to 45.

This latest tragedy serves as a grim reminder of the ruined state of Cuba’s buildings and households after more than six decades of communist rule, and the lack of investment of the communist regime in improving the living conditions of its citizens.

The hotel, located in the center of the Cuban capital city of Havana, was allegedly undergoing renovation work and was scheduled to reopen its doors on May 10 after being closed for two years due to the Chinese Coronavirus Pandemic. The explosion caused massive damage to the first four floors of the historic five-floor edifice.

The Associated Press

The five-star Hotel Saratoga is heavily damaged after an explosion in Old Havana, Cuba, Friday, May 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

According to data released by the Cuban regime on May 13, four children and a pregnant woman are among the 45 deceased. A total of 99 injured have been registered, out of which 11 adults and 4 children remain hospitalized. Most of the victims were hotel workers and passersby.

The Cuban regime has stated that the body of the last missing person was found among the debris. Despite the tragedy, the Cuban Communist regime refused to immediately decree a state of national mourning during the official visit of leftist Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador to Cuba — waiting until May 12 to decree 42 hours of national mourning.

The Cuban regime’s official version states that the explosion occurred as a result of a gas leak accident when a cistern gas truck was resupplying the hotel’s kitchen area. This tragedy is not an isolated incident, but rather, the latest in a series of accidents that showcase the utter ruined state of Cuba’s infrastructure — an ever-present danger to Cuban lives.

The blast explosion at the Saratoga Hotel also caused damage to its surrounding buildings. Neighboring residents are in fear that their households, which suffered damage after the explosion, can collapse at any moment.


Rescuers remove debris on May 7, 2022 following an explosion at Havana’s Saratoga Hotel. (AFP)

“I live with my husband and my grandson,” said María Elena Pérez, a 65-year-old Cuban woman. “I came to live here 40 years ago and we are very afraid that the building will collapse at any moment.” She, along with other neighbors, stated that no Cuban officials have come to assess their places of residence for any damages caused by the explosion.

Days after the gas explosion that took place in the Hotel Saratoga, a second gas explosion occurred on May 11 in a house located half a mile away from the hotel, leaving three more injured citizens as a result (two adults and one child).

On May 12, a fire broke out in a food store located in the Regla municipality as a consequence of an electric failure, raising the alarms on the local population. On December 16, 2021, the wall of a building located in Old Havana collapsed, trapping two passersby and killing one of them. On July 8, 2021, the eaves of an old building collapsed as well. Despite the hazardous conditions of the building, more than twenty families reside on it. In September 2020, another building collapsed, leaving one person injured. In March 2020, a collapsing building left one dead.

The Saratoga Hotel is operated by the Cuban Communist regime through the Gaviota Tourism group, an organization that is part of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces’ Grupo de Administración Empresarial (Business Management Group).

Until 2008, Cuban citizens were officially banned from staying in any of the country’s hotels — even when legally permitted to rent rooms there, the luxurious amenities of hotels such as the Saratoga remain well outside the reach of Cuban citizens and are, in essence, reserved only for foreign tourists.

The Saratoga Hotel’s room fares start at $280.00 and go all the way to $1,400.00 per night in the hotel’s higher-end suites. For comparison, the monthly minimum wage a Cuban citizen receives is 2,100 Cuban Pesos — equivalent to $87.

Time and time again, and especially during the years of the Obama administration’s lax approach towards Cuba, celebrities have often turned a blind eye to more than sixty years of Cubans being subjugated by the Castro communist regime, using Cuba as a sort of chic and exotic tropical tourist spot all the while its people continue to live through the sheer blunt of communism, never knowing when their apartment building will collapse upon itself, and often risking everything to reach America via makeshift boats and rafts.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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