Cubans Stuck between Adversity and Hope

By Ammi

HAVANA TIMES – Thomas Hobbes, a 17th century philosopher, brilliantly pointed out that humans in their natural state are: solitary, poor, unpleasant, merciless and blunt. He believes that our instincts tend to compete, so that we can dominate others. For this reason, it was necessary to establish a government to uphold law and order.

These characteristics which have very little to do with Cubans, however, may be making a significant mark during the social transformation process in lockdown.

Cubans learning to be solitary, that they can’t come within a meter of a friend or acquaintance, is a hard pill to swallow. When by nature, island natives are already inviting a stranger for coffee after talking for a short while.

In terms of being poor, many are on the brink of falling into poverty but they don’t complain. Because this is how the vast majority of Cubans have lived most of their lives. With this uncertainty of not knowing to what extent capitalism will take hold of us. Or how our economy will be dollarized, with dollars in every pocket, which gives some people hope. That we are still in time to see an encouraging future of change and government restructuring.

What might be on the horizon?

Poverty in Cuba.

Now, in terms of being unpleasant and merciless, images pop into my head without my permission. I see an inevitable and gradual Armageddon that is heading for our country. The wave of repression administered by uniformed police and other military agents of the regime against the Cuban people. Any small violation can be a trigger for a severe beating.

Terrible consequences such as: a loss of identity, values or our culture. This is our greatest fear, within this new order where lines to buy food or personal hygiene items, and Internet access are a priority. People walking on a tight rope, wondering whether their pockets will ever turn green. 

The last of these characteristics could be that the light at the end of the tunnel only lasts for a brief while. Meanwhile, we continue to compete with our instincts, surviving another day.

Read more diary posts from Ammi.

3 thoughts on “Cubans Stuck between Adversity and Hope

  • As Nick points out, there are always a few exceptions like his friend who is obviously older than Ammi, who as a young mother has to struggle to enable her four children to survive. The conditions and problems which Ammi describes represent the norm for by far the majority of Cubans.

    As for lamenting the passing of political figures, whether they be like Margaret Thatcher, elected democratically at three elections, or like Fidel Castro, a never freely elected tyrannical totalitarian dictator, I recall that there were even those who lamented the passing of Josef Stalin, Mao and Adolf Hitler.

    But, it is nice to know that at least one Cuban is happy with his lot and I hope that it is not too long before he and Nick can go to watch a game together.

  • I was on the phone to a dear friend in Cuba the other day. He doesn’t share the general pessimism often put across in these types of articles.
    He’s not wealthy. He doesn’t live in any kind of luxury. However, he doesn’t complain much about stuff other than the usual ‘it ain’t easy’ from time to time. This is usually followed by ‘then again it ain’t so difficult either’.
    He couldn’t really give a crap about politics one way or another. He most definitely and categorically is not a Communist or a Revolutionary. Occasionally he expresses an admiration of Jose Martí or Antonio Maceo or an even more occasional and very sketchy admiration of Fidel Castro.
    When I asked him about the Covid situation he said its a drag having stuff closed down and having to stand around waiting for food supplies but he said he thinks the Cuban Government are doing a good job at managing the situation and doing a lot better than the Governments in Brazil or Peru. He mentioned high infection rates there.
    He’s got a great sense of humour and the things that irritate him are pessimism and listening to people complaining all the time. He has no interest in journalism or Hobbes’ Leviathan or anything like that. He prefers baseball. When I’m in Cuba we go to the game together.
    He went to Germany once. He said it was ok but couldn’t understand the language, said it was cold and was shocked at the price of a bottle of rum. He was glad to get back to Cuba and tell his buddies on the corner all about it.
    As I say he’s got no real interest in politics but he did thank me for sending condolences when Commandante Fidel Castro died. He had, a couple of years previously, sent me condolences when Baroness Margaret Thatcher died (!!).
    In the quarter century I’ve known him I’ve never heard him going on about how terrible things are because he just doesn’t seem to get to thinking like that. He’s an optimist by nature.
    And I do miss going for a few rums and catching a baseball game with my dear friend. Just need someone to come up with a vaccine…….

  • As a Cuban, Ammi’s view of what represents poverty is different from that which applies in the more prosperous capitalist countries. To visitors from those countries, all the Cuba they see if venturing away from the tourist spots, is in poverty. How else can one describe a people existing on a monthly pittance?

    Ammi is addressing the current reality that the level of poverty is becoming even worse than previously.

    Where are the Castro sycophants to challenge her view that “I see an inevitable and gradual Armageddon that is heading for our country. The wave of repression administered by uniformed police and other military agents of the regime against the Cuban people.”

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