Thinking of me, I imagine myself city, I think that the ailments you have are what you can feel when you have lived so long. Five centuries is little compared to ancient cities like Athens, in Greece, or Istanbul, in Turkey. But it is a lot for us in our America. Havana is part of that new wave that opens with the Spanish conquest and colonization. And it has a wide scale of values. There is a symbolic value: it is the nation's capital, the head; but at the same time it is also very representative of all the cultural, intellectual, political, historical and social values of the Cuban people. It is also a catalog of the most beautiful and dazzling architecture that reached the Island, with features that can also be found in Camaguey, Santiago de Cuba or Trinidad.

For example, that Moorish architecture, of Hispanic and Muslim influence, is very characterized in the historical center. Later, that timid, but exciting baroque of the Cathedral of Havana, contained more in a mood, in a kind of feeling or atmosphere that the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier described vigorously in The Century of Lights, his great novel.

There is the neoclassical city, with El Templete, the monument dedicated to the foundation to Havana, a kind of small model that also reproduces with great originality in other cities of Cuba, such as Matanzas or Cienfuegos. And then, that city of eclecticism that is so impressive, in Centro Habana, full of gargoyles, atlantes, extraordinary figures, imaginary creatures. There, the art nouveau (Cueto de la Plaza Vieja building) is almost subversively cast and then the art deco is very splendid, as in the Emilio Bacardí building, to make the architecture discourse even more intense. And finally, Havana of modernity, which reaches its splendor from the hand of Viennese architect Richard Neutra in the House of Schulthess, one of the most beautiful of the cast where Fifth Avenue takes us.

Havana is a living city of wisdom and memory: in this lively metropolis we find the acropolis of wisdom that is the beautiful campus of the University and the great monumental cemetery, the necropolis, beautiful too.

Our task is to promote the idea of preserving the memory of the city, not only when it comes to commemorating its fifth centenary, but in everyday life. I have dedicated more than three decades and I confess that sometimes preaching that cause was like doing it in the desert. I wish to affirm that culture has been almost a motto of our Master Plan for the rehabilitation and restoration of the historic center. Every development project that dispenses with culture only generates decay. On the other hand, the human factor is very important. I would like to make these commemorations become a popular passion. If they do not transcend the town they will be reduced only to an official speech, move some stones and print some papers.

One of the challenges facing cities declared World Heritage is the difficulty of reconciling tourism - sometimes massive - and the conservation of heritage values. And we must ensure that Havana does not disappear under a tide of tourists. But, at the same time, I believe that tourism should not be demonized, a necessary activity, an important economic factor, and in the case of Cuba - given its isolation -, an opportunity also to initiate a direct dialogue with visitors from all regions

I must confess that I have almost lost the battle against the sea, a battle that could only be fought by Neptune with his trident. I cannot forget the images of the devastating waves breaking against the Castillo del Morro, erected for centuries in front of the sea and the latter penetrating the city, covering the Prado gardens with salt, wearing down the foundations of ancient palaces and modern buildings. They are dantesque visions that are repeated at every step of a cyclone. We have lost the battle against the sea, but we must win our fight against climate change. Great challenges and new adventures await us., In the restoration of "the smile of Havana", our Malecon

It is true that everything has always taken me to Havana. They have really been many years of work and commitment. I do not regret. If there were another life than this that we know below, my soul will wander eternally through Havana. It has been the best of my loves, the best of my passions, the greatest of my challenges. I really don't know why I always return mysteriously to her, in the light and in the silence, in life and in the dream.