In the fifties, after the coup of March 10, 1952, I don’t know if General Batista himself, or one of his acolytes, changed the name of Linea Street, in El Vedado, to General Batista Avenue. No one ever called it that, except perhaps the odd Batista supporter, and after his flight of it, everyone called it Linea again, a name which, thankfully, still holds.
What is now called Calzada de Diez de Octubre, in honor of this important historical date, was called Calzada de Jesus del Monte in my childhood and youth, perhaps due the Catholic chapel (later church) of the same name, located on the Loma de la Luz, better known as Loma de Jesus del Monte. Via the Avenue of Jesus del Monte, we went to Havana (as we called the commercial center of the city) on Route 4 of the Aliados bus line, and we returned to Mantilla by it. Also I went back and forth to my school (los Escolapios de la Vibora), located a few blocks away on Calle Correa, by the same street.
José Martí Civic Plaza, which became a focal point of the city, with the monument, the obelisk, government and cultural buildings and a large central park with trees, fountains, pergolas, benches to rest on, and other areas of entertainment, a true green heart which humanized such a large space, was castrated by them, converted to an arid space of cement and asphalt, without a single tree, fountain, pergola or bench, where only a crazy person, if not expelled by law enforcement, would stop to rest.
The original project, truly beautiful, was transformed into a totalitarian parody, designed only for parades and rallies of support and reaffirmation, Further, the name was changed to the José Martí Plaza of the Revolution. Some day, when the people of Cuba once again live in peace, with calm and tranquility, dedicated to work and creation, and also to relaxing with their friends and families, forgetting so many enemies, with no need for parades or rallies of of support and reaffirmation, finally, when Cuba becomes a normal nation, and works through its institutions, the Plaza, I’m convinced, we recover its original name, and the unfinished project, enriched with the new, can bring a happy ending for the new Cubans.
For me, I don’t know if it’s true for other people as well, the original names of the streets, avenues, parks, etc. are very important. I think that to change them shows a lack of respect for the generations that came before us, of which we are the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. These historical questions continue (the real reason for the changes), simply demonstrate a lack of civic maturity, which is much more important than the much touted political maturity, and what’s more, forgetting the true national identity, an important component of nationality.
Perhaps, when we are a little more educated and responsible than we are now, we shall be ashamed of these atrocities that have been and are being committed. Then, calm, without the pressures and tensions we are now subjected to in the daily struggle for survival, we will be able to behave as true citizens, and understand our nation, something that has been forming over time, where all eras and their actors played their roles, both leading and supporting, but where it is not honest to exalt some and disqualify others.
Note: The pictures belong to previous post on the same topic. The monument to Ho Chi Minh in Acapulco Park, and the shoes of Presidente Zayas. I mistakenly said Estrada Palma.
July 13 2011