HAVANA TIMES — I left Cuba exactly one year ago. During this time, I’ve had to adapt to life in Ecuador, a small country uncommonly rich in natural resources, with a broad variety of climates, landscapes and breathtaking ecosystems – scattered across an expanse of land whose dimensions are close to Cuba’s. It is also a poor country owing to the egotism of a handful of horrible politicians who – save for the occasional and honorable exception – have distributed the nation’s wealth terribly.
This was my first contact with the outside world, a country which, though far from being First World, is making strides towards this. I believe that, if Ecuador sees more presidents like Rafael Correa, presidents with an excellent sense of how to steer the economy, the country will be able to compete with the First World in some areas in a few years’ time.
I would now like to summarize a number of things I’ve seen, things I thought were unique to Cuba. After a year abroad, I now see they are, regrettably, not limited to my country.
– In Cuba, it used to bother me that many TV programs were re-runs. Here, CNN, which has a lot of money, re-runs its programs much more than Cuban channels.
– In Cuba, it used to bother me even more that people didn’t protest over injustices. Well, they don’t protest here either – protests are staged almost exclusively by native populations and people living in abject poverty. For instance, last year, the owners of the university where I currently work didn’t pay their professors for 3 months and not one of them complained, not publicly, at least.
– When I left Cuba, I thought I’d free myself from the clutches of bureaucracy. It turns out the bureaucratic apparatus here is far larger than Cuba’s. I now understand why Max Weber devoted part of his time to the study of bureaucracy under capitalism.
– My biggest lesson in the course of this year has to do with information, particularly in connection with Latin America. The lesson taught me that, in order to know the truth about what’s happening down here, you have to be here. The media, so much the Left as the Right, are not in the least reliable. They rather tend to exaggerate events to suit their interests, putting the truth to one side (as though it were not important).
Another point I have to address is the myth that we Cubans are academically well-prepared. In order to be competitive in today’s world, one must have a doctorate or PhD and speak at least two languages in addition to one’s native tongue (this last detail alone can make the difference when one sets out in search of a job). I don’t know whether my readers will agree with me, but, this is what I have seen during my first year of life outside Cuba.