Surviving in Cuba and What It Has Meant

By Ammi

HAVANA TIMES – Recently I wrote a diary post about survival, in the eyes of a friend who experienced the rough years of the 1990s crisis in Cuba, a crisis that still continues to exist.

Today, I want to tell you what this survival experiment, at all costs, has left us.

This struggle of trying has transformed a noble, hardworking people who love their family, neighborhood and people, into a people of outcasts, who settle down in the most remote places in the world. It has transformed them into a group of thieves (because that’s what we are when we try to “resolve” the basic essentials behind our manager’s back at work).

It has transformed bravery and values into a hyprocritical silence in the face of injustice, for fear of losing what little we have left, which is almost nothing. It has taught us to only think about what we’re going to eat tomorrow and to hold onto our food until our guests leave, not out of selfishness, but rather out of the conviction that what we have in the kitchen won’t be enough for everyone.

Blissful survival in Cuba has destroyed the sacred family code. Siblings fight over the house of their deceased parents, so they can sell it and generate some capital to start up a business. A piece of bread can kick off an epic Trojan fight between cousins, aunts and uncles or anyone who is left without breakfast, because somebody else ate first.

Cubans’ natural joy has been stolen from them, and it has made them look at those abroad with hate, because they managed to “leave”, while those left on the island are being corrupted by so much garbage.

After writing all of this and knowing that I could spend my entire life writing about what it means to survive in Cuba, I realize that I still don’t know what I’m surviving for. Surviving who? Surviving to do the same thing all over again tomorrow?

I don’t want to just survive anymore. I have already fought many battles and I don’t like to cope. I want to live a dignified life, without finding myself on a tightrope every time I open my eyes in the morning.   

Read more from Ammi here.


I’m a mother of four children who through perseverance, studies and improvement managed to improve her environment and I have learned that every effort is rewarded and knowledge is shared. For me there is nothing more important than freedom and especially that which is capable of breaking personal limits. I am considered a cheerful, enthusiastic, curious person, willing to learn from each new experience.

2 thoughts on “Surviving in Cuba and What It Has Meant

  • Great and True

  • Ammi writes a very touching and telling account of daily Cuban experiences. No doubt her story resonates across the island to the majority of citizens who are at the mercy of their inept, incompetent government.

    There are many, many reasons that have brought the Cuban economy to such a disastrous state. Those reasons have been repeated over and over on many HT articles and other platforms that provide a non bias overview of the present economic situation in Cuba today.

    Cuban citizens are hurting. Certainly not those Cuban Party faithful affiliated with the Cuban communist government who can easily access any form of help necessary for themselves and their families. Be it food, medicines, household necessities all can be acquired as long as one is “connected” to the right cadres in the communist Party elite.

    It is the majority who suffer, like Ammi and her unconnected family, that must bear the brunt of mismanaged political policies that force some law abiding citizens to no longer be law abiding Cuban citizens for survival’s sake.

    As Ammi writes: “This struggle of trying has transformed a noble, hardworking people who love their family, neighborhood and people, into a people of outcasts. . . . It has transformed them into a group of thieves (because that’s what we are when we try to “resolve” the basic essentials behind our manager’s back at work).”

    I am sure this criminal behavior not only takes place at work but within neighborhoods where extreme poverty forces some neighbors to steal from neighbors. Osmel, the Cuban farming entrepreneur, can attest to that. “The cassava I planted can be harvested after six months, but a few weeks away from this date, on a rainy night some people stole approximately 30 cangres (what we call the root that has the cassavas attached to it) from me.” HT (My Family Survival Journey Advances Amid the Crisis, June 19,2021).

    Can one blame the treacherous thieves? From a Cuban criminal perspective – guilty as charged. From a humanity perspective, were those Cuban citizens reverting to thieving simply trying to feed themselves and their hungry families? Perhaps. I do not know.

    Multiply that state sentiment and struggle across the island and society begins to fall apart. People on empty stomachs; people who face extreme hopelessness; people who face hunger on a daily basis, people in such conditions revert to their most basic instincts for survival causing the entire society to suffer negative consequences.

    Ammi clearly points out “survival” is, unfortunately, the operative word in the lexicon of the majority of Cubans today. Their government is inattentive to their plight. Words of encouragement by those living on the outside looking in can only do so much.

    “I don’t want to just survive anymore”, writes Ammi. A strong, powerful statement. I just hope those political Cuban Party leaders have some sort of decency and compassion for their fellow citizens. Their country’s future depends on it.

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