Former Havana Spanish Casino: Another Lost Gem Due to Neglect

Thursday, May 23, 2024 by Samantha Mendoza

The former Casino Español de La Habana, later transformed into the Círculo Social Obrero José Ramón Rodríguez in the Playa municipality, stands as yet another victim of the Cuban regime's neglect and abandonment.

A young woman named Camila Carballo shared a video on Facebook last Saturday, showcasing the dilapidated state of the facility. The short clip reveals sections of what must have once been a beautiful structure now exposing bare brick and even steel beams in some areas.

Nevertheless, its prime location facing the sea, which once made it a beautiful and popular spot, still remains evident, though the grandeur has long since faded.

Calls for Privatization

In 2023, following the publication of images of the site on social media, many netizens called for the transfer of such facilities to the private sector, arguing that they would be better preserved under private management.

Among the commenters, some claimed to have visited the establishment before 1959, during its heyday. "It wasn't one of the so-called 'High Life' clubs, but I remember it being very well maintained in the Cuban-Iberian style. The lockers on the upper floor were well-guarded and very clean," one person recounted.

Miramar, within the Playa municipality, was one of Havana's main residential areas. Before 1959, it was chosen for the opening of several seaside clubs and social centers for the recreation of wealthy and middle-class families.

After January 1959, with Fidel Castro coming to power, all these recreational centers were nationalized and many were turned into the so-called Círculos Sociales Obreros. Most were located along the western coastal strip of the Cuban capital, from the Torreón de La Chorrera to Jaimanitas, within the Playa municipality.

Besides the José Ramón Rodríguez (formerly Casino Español de La Habana), others include the Félix Elmuza (formerly Club Náutico), the Julio Antonio Mella (formerly Havana Yacht Club), and the Braulio Coroneaux (formerly La Concha).

Due to their proximity to the coast, the deterioration of these facilities has accelerated significantly, compounded by the Cuban regime's failure to implement proper maintenance over the past decades.

This site joins a long list of emblematic places in Cuba that are being lost to decay due to a regime incapable of maintaining them amid the current economic crisis.

In the Playa municipality, the once-popular Pizzería Lisboa, also known as Pizzería de La Copa, is another location slowly fading away. Similarly, the former discotheque of the Hotel Comodoro now serves as a dumping ground for debris and trash.

FAQs About the Decline of Havana's Iconic Sites

Here are some frequently asked questions about the unfortunate state of Havana's historic sites and the factors contributing to their decline.

What led to the decline of the Casino Español de La Habana?

The decline of the Casino Español de La Habana is primarily due to neglect and lack of maintenance by the Cuban regime, coupled with its coastal location which accelerates deterioration.

Why is privatization being suggested for these facilities?

Privatization is suggested because many believe private entities would have the resources and motivation to properly maintain and restore these historic sites, unlike the current regime.

What other significant sites in Playa municipality are deteriorating?

Other notable sites in Playa municipality facing deterioration include the Pizzería Lisboa (Pizzería de La Copa) and the former discotheque of the Hotel Comodoro.

© CubaHeadlines 2024

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