HAVANA, Cuba. – Another explosion has been reported in a Havana hotel due to a gas leak. This time around it’s the Caribbean Hotel, located in the busy intersection of Prado Boulevard and Colón Street. Only one person has been reported injured, as well as the quick evacuation of the remaining guests.
For Cubans, the feeling that alarms are going off has been inevitable. Memories of the Saratoga explosion come to mind, that tremendous blast that was felt miles away, which caused 47 deaths, 99 injuries, half of the hotel building destroyed and neighboring structures damaged. Residents of the capital remained on guard for days following the rescue operations; to date, no official report has been published about the incident. All that’s known is that it was a gas leak, like the one that now has the Caribbean’s neighbors worried.
Even though this hotel has disappeared completely from promotional messaging to attract tourists, some visitors still stay at the Caribbean. Its location on Prado Boulevard, a few blocks from the Malecón, is still privileged, even if its modest presence is barely noticeable next to luxury hotels like the Grand Packard, the Mystique Regis and the five-star hotel named after the legendary boulevard.
The origin of the gas leak at the Caribbean is still unknown, as are the damages the building suffered; but the incident could have been caused, as before, by negligence and errors, whether with hotel maintenance protocols, or with the gas ducts that are built locally.
Not even the proximity of expensive facilities, built in the hope to attract millionaire tourism used to quality standards that are incompatible with Cuba’s poverty, has made the regime maximize its security measures so that there is no repeat of the Saratoga explosion.
Cuba has remained behind the main international tourism destinations in the Caribbean. The country closed 2022 with a number of visitors that was lower than had been expected, and the number of visitors this past January (246,000) was not encouraging when one considers it is tourism high season. If we add to that the potential hidden accidents that lie in wake behind the modern glass facades of the new hotels, where no explanations are given nor anyone held accountable, it would not be surprising for the number of tourists to decrease even more.
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