HERSHEY, Cuba — Along the coastal highway 30 miles east of Havana, the road signs point to a turnoff for Camilo Cienfuegos City. It doesn’t exist. At least not by that name.
“AIR-shee” is what everyone still calls it. Hershey. That much remains.
Most of the rest of the model town founded by U.S. chocolate tycoon Milton S. Hershey in 1916 is in a state of heartbreaking ruin. The looming sugar mill, once among the world’s most advanced, is a gutted, ghostly hulk. Its rusting machinery spills from the wreckage as if blasted by a bomb or kicked apart by a giant.
Up and down Hershey’s grid of neatly laid residential streets, many of the original company-built houses remain, with clapboard siding and some of the only screened-in front porches anywhere in Cuba. The old company hotel and several of the bigger, stately flagstone homes, where the American
supervisors lived, have caved in.
Gone, too, is the Hershey Social Club, the golf course and other traces of the American experiment that flourished here until it was obliterated by a revolution that did not share the northern ideals of private industry and social progress held dear by “Mister Hershey.”
“Everything has been destroyed,” said Amparo DeJongh, 92, the first person born in the town and one of the few who stayed to see it fall apart.
“It’s horrible what they have done,” she said.
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