The inhabitants of the city of Matanzas are witnesses and protagonists of a transcendental moment of the neoclassical city par excellence of Cuba. Even if there are those who still doubt the fate of the comprehensive restoration plan Matanzas 325 or criticize some of their actions, the truth is that an unprecedented constructive revolution takes place in the Athens of Cuba.
Many have defended the political, governmental and cultural authorities of Matanzas and also the City Curator, the idea that Plan 325 did not end with the anniversary of the founding of the city, last October 12, but it constituted a motivation, an impulse towards the integral renewal of Matanzas.
At this point, what comes next? Are there economic funds and assurances to continue the works? Will Matanzas come to be totally beautiful?
Leonel Pérez Orozco refers to this. «We have achieved that the projects of restoration of the public spaces and heritage buildings march with quality.
«The most difficult thing was to concentrate the actions at one point. With this objective, the specialists of the Master Plan of the Conservator’s Office formalized the Priority Zone for Conservation, based on an agreement of the Municipal Administration Council of Matanzas.
«The 325 evolves towards a very strengthened future. The reconstructive works of the city have insured the corresponding budgets for the year 2019. No project is orphan from financing, human or material resources. We still have a lot to do, but we will finish each of our commitments. »
So much has been achieved in Matanzas! Even more than what the inhabitants of this city imagined, who suffered years of neglect and abandonment. From now on, the possibility of reconquering the beauty that is already evident in the main sites of the historic city center, National Monument, the second in terms of proportions in the country is reborn.
«Historical buildings and public spaces were renovated, including the Narváez River Cultural Corridor, which includes five cultural projects, the» Lolo «gallery. We are the only city in Cuba that has a boardwalk on a river.
«We also recovered two blocks from Medio Street as a commercial pedestrian space. Next year we will continue with two more blocks until we reach Dos de Mayo.
«We also finished the Vigía Square, one of the most beautiful places that the city can show today, where the majesty and importance of its buildings stand out.
«It is an area where the neoclassical patrimony exhibits its maximum exponents with the Sauto Theater, about to conclude, the Palace of Justice and the Fire Department, the first and the last of that style that were built in Cuba.
«It is also significant the rescue of the original cobblestones of this place, with the node of the tram, the only exposed in the country.»
After October 12, Plan Matanzas 325 continues its drive to reach 75 percent in the renovation of the Priority Area for Conservation. Other projects that are added to the reconstruction of heritage buildings and the revival of public areas where they are located are the bridges, the founding church of the city, the cave of The Bell and the colonial winery.
Pérez Orozco updates on how the execution of these works will be. «Before the end of this year, rehabilitation actions will begin on the bridges and will extend until 2020.
«The foundational church in its first phase must conclude at the end of December, with a second stage of work in 2019; meanwhile, the projects of The Bell Cave, located near Monserrate, and the colonial winery, will be carried out next year «.
It is valid to highlight the work of the government and political authorities in Matanzas and the workers of the Conservator’s Office to achieve a dream that sounded like utopia in the first modern city of Cuba.
We must also thank the effort with which the workers work, under the sun or the rain, at very early hours or when the sun sets, according to Matanzas recapturing his Athenian spirit of Cuban culture.»There are many people working on this great work. Not only is the quality with which the work is carried out meritorious, but also the loving conscience of doing things well.
«Everything is done with care, professionalism, with a culture of detail. The result is to return to Matanzas a prestige, brilliance, a well-deserved relief. This has a social impact from the point of view of the citizen to be the recipient of these benefits becomes a participant, «said Ercilio Vento Canosa, Historian of the City of Matanzas.
Although the professionalism and rigor with which the remodeling work has been undertaken has been essential, the popular participation in caring for these actions in the medium and long term will also be decisive, Vento Canosa reflects.
«We suffered a long stay in which nothing was done for this city. That is why it is explained that a part of the citizenry has a pessimistic criterion with a certain logic, but just looking around destroys anything bad.
«Sometimes they even selfishly value the inconvenience caused to them at a given moment, without thinking that these difficulties precede a later, collective and free benefit: the drains have been fixed, the facades have been restored, doors and windows have been changed, and they have been painted.
«There is a part of the population that is enthusiastic and there are those who participate. But, to a greater extent, we suffer destructions for vandals that have gone unpunished. What do we need? Care and vigilance.
» The idea that should prevail is that this was not the end of 325, but the beginning of 330. After the Matanzas found that their dreams would not be frustrated, as so many times before, today they look with different eyes at the greatness that seemed lost under his feet.
Matanzas is not today the city of three years ago, that must remain alone as the memory of what should never happen again. To the delight of the inhabitants of this splendid city, the Athens of Cuba resurged with more vigor than before, with more hope than before.
The challenge now is to be consistent with the moment we live today in Matanzas, contribute with our daily work so that this city of rivers and bridges flourish with the splendor that conquered by the 60s of the nineteenth century, when it was declared Athens of Cuba.
In our hands is the commitment to preserve so much beauty contained in Matanzas geography, in this amphitheater that looks at the bay now with the pride of its upsurge and the brilliance of its well-known cultural wealth.