Cuba’s ongoing updating of its economic and social model has prompted new dynamics driven by emerging public and private enterprises. This trend is evident in the revitalization of Old Havana, which seeks to preserve the heritage of the city while stimulating tourism and other economic activity. But growth in Havana takes place against the backdrop of aging infrastructure, lagging economy and a decaying urban landscape.
On September 13, the Foreign Policy at Brookings Latin America Initiative hosted Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler for a discussion on urban revitalization in Havana and the challenges facing Cuba’s urban planners today. Dr. Leal is Havana’s chief historian and leads the government’s efforts to remake Havana into a prime destination for international travelers — more than 2.8 million visited in 2012 and already 1.5 million had visited in the first half of 2013.
Francesco Lanzafame, senior housing and urban development specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank, provided commentary on urban redevelopment and conservation of cultural heritage in Latin America and the Caribbean and implications for Cuba. Brookings Senior Fellow and Acting Director of Foreign Policy Ted Piccone moderated the discussion. Harold Trinkunas, director of the Latin America Initiative at Brookings, provided introductory comments.
My biggest concern is that Washington is signaling to Russia that it’s OK to meddle in the politics of sovereign nations which are your neighbors. Meddling is going on from Paris to Ukraine, from east to west and north to south, within Europe and at its borders, and always with the intent of undermining the credibility and effectiveness of democratic institutions. And it is being either denied or downplayed.