Living on Havana’s Edge

Living on Havana’s Edge

Cuba's economic crisis has caused squatter communities to pop up all around the nation's capital city. (St. Petersburg Times)

The hillsides around Havana are dotted with dozens of squatter settlements, which are home to tens of thousands of Cubans. When they began appearing more than a decade ago, the government tried to send everyone back to their home towns, but the settlements continued to grow, accelerated by Cuba’s economic crisis.

Las Piedras is a squatter community on the eastern outskirts of Havana. Strictly speaking, it’s illegal. Electricity is stolen from overhead cables, homes are built without permits and many residents work illegally on the black market raising pigs or chickens or running unlicensed businesses.

Capturing the sights, voices and music, a team from the St. Petersburg Times spent a week visiting Las Piedras for this video story. A quiet resignation is heard in interviews with residents – life is hard but this is what we have always known, and so we carry on.

CHANNEL: St. Petersburg Times (

Length: 4:46

Produced by John Pendygraft and David Adams