Friday, February 10, 2017

Cuban planner fears for Havana's future

The Cuba at the Crossroads event was held at Rollins College.
Old Havana streets are covered with Massachusetts stones that were used as ballast in ships that once journeyed to Cuba to pick up sugar.
"That means when you are walking around on the streets of Havana, you are walking on American soil," Cuban architect and urban planner Miguel Coyula joked today during a presentation at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.
Coyula was the keynote speaker at the college's Cuba at the Crossroads symposium. He covered a lot of ground - from the 1500s to present day and explained how Havana developed its unique character.
Cuba's indigenous people didn't influence Cuban culture or society in a big way, Coyula said, because they were "rapidly exterminated" - some 250,000 people were killed over a 30-year period. But European influence can be seen all over Havana. Coyula said that many of Cuba's creoles - the children of Spanish settlers - traveled to Europe to study. They brought back European customs and ideas when they returned.
"Old Havana is a little piece of Europe in the middle of the Americas," said Coyula, a professor at the University of Havana.