The New York Times: Cuba’s Reward for the Dutiful: Gated Housing:
In the splendid neighborhoods of this dilapidated city, old mansions are being upgraded with imported tile. Businessmen go out for sushi and drive home in plush Audis. Now, hoping to keep up, the government is erecting something special for its own: a housing development called Project Granma, featuring hundreds of comfortable apartments in a gated complex set to have its own movie theater and schools.
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Project Granma and similar “military cities” around the country are Caribbean-color edifices of reassurance, set aside for the most ardent defenders of Cuba’s 1959 revolution: families tied to the military and the Interior Ministry. With their balconies, air-conditioning and fresh paint, the new apartments are the government’s most public gifts to its middle ranks and a clear sign of Cuba’s new hybrid economy, in which the state must sometimes compete with private enterprise.
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Project Granma — named after the boat Fidel Castro took from Mexico to Cuba to start the revolution — is one of several new military housing developments around the country. Its equivalent in Santiago de Cuba, where the Castro revolution began, has come under fire from Cubans struggling in rickety homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy. But as an attempt to match the private sector, or life in other countries, it is perhaps no accident that the colors and architecture of the Granma, in the same neighborhood that Raúl Castro calls home, give it the feel of a Florida condo complex.
At its edge, there is a baseball field. Inside the gates, streetlamps resembling classic gaslights line the sidewalks, while cars, another perk, fill lots.
At a building with rounded archways, where a movie theater, market and health clinic are meant to go, one of the project’s engineers said several thousand people would eventually call Granma home. Sweating in green army fatigues, he praised the plan, noting its imported, prefabricated design that allowed walls to be assembled quickly, like puzzle pieces. He failed to mention what a security guard had pointed out: Most of the workers painting were prison inmates.