http://havanajournal.com/politics/entry/raul-castro-to-allow-cubans-to-build-private-homes-in-havana-cuba/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Raul Castro to allow Cubans to build private homes in Havana Cuba

Posted January 05, 2009 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

AFP

Cubans will be permitted to build their own homes and do so using private funds, President Raul Castro announced on Sunday, in the latest reforms to back off the hardline communism of the past five decades.

Home construction in Cuba primarily has been left to the government, but demand has outstripped supply and a dire lack of housing has greatly frustrated the island’s 11 million inhabitants.

Raul Castro, 77 years old, who took over the reins of power from his older brother Fidel Castro last February, said the policy change would allow the quick construction of hundreds of thousands of new dwellings.

Cubans will be given clear guidelines about the dimensions of a proposed new dwelling, Castro explained on a local television program.

They will be told, “OK, here you can build. I’ve given you this amount of space, that amount of room for a street, and that amount for a sidewalk. Now build your little home with whatever you can,” the former defense minister said.

His remarks were made as he visited the newly built La Risuena neighborhood, a settlement of Venezuela-built homes erected with the help of oil money that has lessened, but not erased, the housing deficit.

The announcement comes just days after Cuba’s celebration of the 50-year anniversary of its 1959 revolution. Former leader Fidel Castro was a no-show at the celebrations.

Havana has succeeded in building only about half its annual goal of 100,000 new homes per year, and the dearth of dwellings worsened last year after Cuba was struck in succession by three hurricanes that leveled around a half million homes.

Over the past year, reforms initiated by the younger Castro brother have included putting vacant farmland in private hands, increasing farmers’ pay, and allowing private contractors such as taxi drivers back into Cuba’s transport sector.

Raul Castro also has allowed Cubans to buy computers, own mobile telephones, rent cars and spend nights in hotels previously accessible only to foreigners - provided they can afford such luxuries on the meager average pay, equivalent to about 17 dollars per month.
—————————————- Havana Journal Comments—————————————-

Havana Journal Inc. owns HavanaHomes.com and is always looking for development partners.

Member Comments

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 05, 2009, publisher wrote:

They will be told, “OK, here you can build. I’ve given you this amount of space, that amount of room for a street, and that amount for a sidewalk. Now build your little home with whatever you can,” the former defense minister said.

How nice.

If these are his actual words then Raul is a condescending DICK!

And he wonders why people steal from the government.

What an idiot AND an asshole.

That’s right President Castro, I called you an idiot and an asshole. Now there’s good reason to ban the Havana Journal in Cuba. (HavanaJournal.com has been banned for several years in Cuba.)

At least Fidel pretended to care about the Cuban people.

Lastly, one can only imagine the restrictions on this new “reform”. Let’s see, you can have a quarter acre out in Ciego de Avila with a view of the railroad or sugar refinery and can only build a one bedroom house and you have to be a communist in good standing.

Oh yeah, you probably have to buy all the lumber at high prices AND have all Cuban government workers build your “little” house.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 05, 2009, chuckdaplumber wrote:

How can a communist living on $25.00 a month buy material or get a loan to build a house (shack) in Cuba?  I say the only new construction will be done by fellow communists stealing from the system.
Chuck da plumber.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 05, 2009, publisher wrote:

A loan? in Cuba?

That’s a funny one.

Just another propaganda or unplanned stupid remark by Raul.

I really feel sorry for the Cuban people and all the shit they have had to put up with for decades.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 05, 2009, publisher wrote:

I want to give credit to Telegraph.co.uk for writing a very balanced article about this new reform by Raul Castro.

Raul Castro lifts ban on Cubans building their own homes

“...is the latest symbolic shift away from the hardline communism…”

and

“The chronic shortage of building materials will, however, make it difficult for individuals to construct their own dwellings. Although cement is offered for sale by the state, other materials such as sand, stone and iron are only available on the black market.”

This is how ALL articles about Cuba should be written… temper the comments with the reality of living in Cuba.

Nice work from Fiona Govan.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 05, 2009, pipefitter wrote:

Publisher, again you shoot from the hip without investigating enough to get all the facts. What he said was, he will authorize all Cubans to build their own houses from whatever resources and initiative they have to help with the lack of adequate housing on the island. He said that they have only been able to build 50,000 of the 100,000 houses promissed by the government for last year. He said the government will take between 3 and 5 years to reconstruct all of the houses that were destroyed or damaged in the last three hurricanes. He also said what he would like to happen is that they would see 100’s of thousands of houses built by individuals and he want’s to let Cubans buy cement etc. and develop the industrial base industries to help with the construction of houses.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 06, 2009, chuckdaplumber wrote:

If Cuba lets U.S. relatives donate money to families in Cuba to build houses, the first step on economic invasion will occur. Long live the almighty dollar. The revoloution is on it’s last legs.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 06, 2009, pipefitter wrote:

I don’t see anything saying that this house building proposal is restricted to Havana as is said in the article above. I also looked up an old Havana Journal posting by Publisher (2004)explaining the ownership and selling of houses in Cuba and it said that Cubans can borrow money from the BPA (Banco Popular de Ahorro) to buy houses. I looked up BPA and it does say that it had $4,145.000 pesos loaned to the Cuban populous (2004) It says that the payback is limited to 1/40th of a persons wages per month. So if a person is making say $300.00 Cuban pesos he would pay $7.50 pesos/month. Divide that by say 20 and you get $0.375 dollars Canadian for house payments. Nice work, schould do that in Canada!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 07, 2009, chuckdaplumber wrote:

If someone could tell me what the cost of a modest new home being built in Cuba is, then I could respond with a comment on: how can you pay for a house at the rate he quoted. You cannot pay for a house at 37 cents a month!
Chuck

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 07, 2009, pipefitter wrote:

Well Chuck, if a cuban tradesman makes $400.00 Cuban pesos a month ( $20.00 Can.), and you have say 5 men working for 5 months thats $10,000 pesos or $500.00 Can dollars in total for labour.
As for the material cost, Im not sure but most houses in Cuba would be made from re-rod and concrete and or concrete blocks, some wood for doors and windows, a water tank on the roof etc. It would then have tiled floors and toilet sinks wiring etc.I don’t know how much cement costs in Cuba, (they do make it there)  So your guess is as good as mine.(Im sure they make toilets, sinks,stoves fridges etc. in Cuba.)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 08, 2009, Yeyo wrote:

They do not make stoves and fridges, they are all imported. They make some toilets of terrible quality and the rest are also imported.
A tradesman make $ 400.00 pesos a month but with that amount you can barely survive as the cost of the live there is easily three times that amount per month.
The only way they can build a house is “resolviendo” which is the Cuban word for obtaining thing illegally, mostly stolen.
The famous authorization to build houses has been always in place; just that before you were supposed to ask for it and it was an extremely bureaucratic process. I remember people that built their houses and due to lack of materials and not sufficient money to contract laborers it took them over 10 years to build very rustic houses.
Most of the times the equipments needed are more expensive than in Canada. For instance tiles are mostly imported from Italy, Spain and Brazil and cost more than in Canada.
Water valves and electric wiring and equipment is all imported and cost more than in Canada.
Cement and cement blocks are made in Cuba but are very scarce due to hundreds of Hotels that are being built for turism and are also very expensive for Cuban standards at around USD 5.00 per 25Kg bag.
You can find most construction stuff on the black market stolen from the Hotels that are being built but is still expensive and in both cases legally or illegally you have to buy it with US dollars or equivalent convertible Peso that is over 20 times more expensive than the Peso the Cubans get as a salary.

Pretty tough scenario for the average Cubans.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 08, 2009, publisher wrote:

I saw a video recently of a Canadian piano tuner who visits Cuba to fix and tune pianos. He complained that he had to bring all his parts with him because he couldn’t buy piano wire and parts in Cuba and blamed the US Embargo.

Boo hoo.

If there is such demand for piano parts in Cuba, he should open up a piano repair business.

Oops, I forgot, Castro won’t let him open a piano repair shop.

That darned Embargo.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 08, 2009, MiamiCuban wrote:

Publisher…..can you ever just say it’s a step in the right direction and leave it at that?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 08, 2009, publisher wrote:

MiamiCuban,

I would love to but nothing is ever that simple in Cuba and you know that.

How about all of Raul’s reforms allowing people to have cellphones, computers, stay in hotels etc.? How about private farm land and private taxis? How’s that going?

We don’t know since independent journalists are restricted in Cuba and they can’t do any investigative reporting.

But if you want me to say that it is a step in the right direction, fine. I agree, it’s a step in the right direction but I would like to know under what restrictions people will be able to build their “little” homes with “whatever” materials they can.

So, it’s like one pound of a one million pound weight has been lifted from the Cuban people.

Great. That’s a step in the right direction.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 09, 2009, pipefitter wrote:

Yeyo, they do make propane stoves and 115V fridges in Cuba as I have seen them in Cuba. A Cuban working in the tourist industry gets tips worth way more than his wages. ($10.00 CUC /day= $200.00 pesos/day)
  On the black market I have heard of $3.00 CUC for a sack of cement, but if the state will sell it legaly it schould be much less as it is produced in Cuba and they want more houses constructed.
  Publisher, you told the story about the piano wire brought in from Europe before and I am sure that piano wire is very important in the scale of things.
It was also implied that Raul said small house (casita) in his statement. I looked at 5 articles on his statement and found only (vivienda, or casa etc.) He didn’t say that the size was restricted but that it would have to meet setbacks and other guidelines the same as we have to in North America.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 10, 2009, nacho wrote:

5 CUC for a sack of cement in the black market and massive fine/several years in prison if the police finds you with it. Welcome to Raul Castro’s Cuba!

Publisher’s right, a year on since Raul is president not much has changed. I don’t need any journalists to tell me, just ask any Cuban living there or traveling from Cuba.

Publisher: will you be adding this new “reform” to the list that the site was keeping at one point?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 10, 2009, pipefitter wrote:

Obviously if the Cuban government want’s to let people build their own houses and let them buy cement from the cement factory it won’t be black market and won’t be $3.00 CUC.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 10, 2009, nacho wrote:

Correct me if I wrong but Cubans have been able to build/repair their houses (provided they comply with regulations and sort out the red tape), the main issue is lack of building materials.  These materials are not available, cannot be obtain but in the black market, ilegally. The socialist government is supposed to provide materials and housing but have failed miserably to do so, wasting millions of dollars elsewhere. Oh, and building hotels/resorts instead of homes for the people

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On January 11, 2009, pipefitter wrote:

No, Cubans could not construct there own homes to date, the government would construct the houses for them. As for repairs, yes if you could find the material, you could repair your own house. Some materials were available but very scarce. The socialist government schould have made available some material but has not to date done so as the production of such has not been sufficient. Most of the material has gone to the repair and building of apartments and tourist facilities around Cuba. Socialist governments waste money the same as capitalist governments do. At least the Cuban government buys food medicin & other necesities from the tourism money to keep the people alive and in good health and it doesn’t go into some individuals pocket.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On March 11, 2009, Sorry for the Cubans wrote:

i must say its a shame that Cuba is such a beautiful Country and the Cuban Citizens cannot enjoy it. The work and slave like beast for the tourist economy, the head of state who steal and live the high life.

It’s very sad and horrifying to see the state the poor people live in, yes they are content but they don’t know any better because they cannot connect with the outside world, nor can they travel. They cannot go and enjoy their own beaches.

Castro and his Brother should be shot the bastards and the Americans take over Cuba and the people see democracy.

Castro and Raul should be put to the firing squad just like the Romanian President and his wife on a christmas day. “YES BY A FIRING SQUAD” until they squirm and fed to the crows.

Pissed of American.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On March 11, 2009, Sorry for the Cubans wrote:

Someone needs to shove some dynamite up Castro and Raul ass and blast them off to space. The %&#! bastards iwish the day would come soon for the %&#! to perish before they die.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On March 11, 2009, publisher wrote:

This is unnecessary and does not contribute anything to the article.

Please stay on topic and offer constructive information.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On March 11, 2009, Malo wrote:

In an effort to facilitate the construction of private residences in Cuba, the Castro government announced today the grand opening of the island’s first “Casa Depot” home improvement store.  The govenment proudly announced that the Casa Depot will carry everything needed to build the casita of your dreams, except for lumbar, concrete, paint, hardware, windows, doors, roofing materials, tools, appliances and other building supplies.