Estranged Cuban couples sometimes remain under the same roof for years or even lifetimes, learning that while divorce on the island is easy, housing is not. The phenomenon is a testament not only to the communist-run island's severe housing shortage, but also to Cubans' ability to stay friendly — or at least civil — under the most awkward of circumstances.
"In a developed country, you get divorced and someone goes to a hotel and then to a new house," said Llera, a 60-year-old mechanic. "Here we had to keep living like a couple."
....By law, Cubans cannot sell their homes and because the state controls almost all property, moves must be approved. Housing is so scarce, however, that often there is nowhere to go.
....Another Havana resident, 45-year-old Mirta, decided to divorce her husband of 18 years in 1997. The couple hired a lawyer and signed papers amicably.
But neither one could move out. A decade later, they still share the same two-bedroom apartment off the famed Malecon seaside promenade with their sons, now 18 and 20.
"We use the same kitchen, same bathroom. We have separate bedrooms, but the electricity, the telephone, the refrigerator — there's only one," Mirta said. "If you're going to get dressed, you have to hide in the bathroom or in the bedroom. There's no privacy."
She said she and her ex-husband clash over utility bills and race home from work for first use of the stove at dinner time.
....Mirta, who asked that her full name and profession not be published because she did not want to be identified publicly as complaining about Cuba's housing crunch.