Leave it to the New York Times to worry about income disparity and gentrification… in Cuba.
In his August 3 story “Cubans Set for Big Change: Right to Buy Homes,” correspondent Damien Cave reported on how Cubans will finally be able – albeit doubtless with numerous restrictions – to own their own houses come legislative changes expected to be enacted later this year.
“[E]ven with some state control, experts say, property sales could transform Cuba more than any of the economic reforms announced by President Raul Castro’s government,” Cave noted before noting unnamed “experts” who fear that “[t]he opportunities for profits and loans would be far larger than what Cuba’s small businesses offer… potentially creating the disparities of wealth that have accompanied property ownership in places like Eastern Europe and China.”
Cave added that:
Havana in particular may be in for a move back in time, to when it was a more stratified city. “There will be a huge rearrangement,” said Mario Coyula, Havana’s director of urbanism and architecture in the 1970s and ’80s. “Gentrification will happen.”
A photo accompanying the story on page A3 included the caption, "Once the purchase and sale of property is allowed in Cuba, places like Havana, above, may become more class-conscious."
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Of course it wasn’t until much later in the article that Cave noted that a recent study by a Washington-based demographer found that “Cuba has a housing deficit of 1.6 million units.” Of course “[t]he government says the number is closer to 500,000” but it’s “still a serious problem.”
Cave noted that “sales might not be enough to fix it [the housing deficit], since there is almost no construction industry, permitting process or materials to build with.”
While it may be obvious to you and me, Cave failed to explicitly draw a line between a half-century of Communism and Cuba’s housing crisis.