You and Us

Jorge Milanes

Policeman taking a tourists picture. Photo: Caridad

“What do you Cubans think of us tourists?” she asked.

“What are you referring to specifically?” I replied.

“I would like to know how you see us, since we come from another country.  We wander through the streets with photo and video cameras, we go into restaurants and we notice that there aren’t many Cubans there,” she explained.

“Yes, many of you have incomes that are greater than ours.  That makes it possible for you to go to restaurants, salsa-techs, to rent cars, ride aboard yachts or go fishing; in short, these are things we can’t do because the prices are too high and they’re in a currency that not everyone has access to,” I explained.

She continued by pointing out, “I’m sure that all of you clearly notice our presence, since we come from cold regions, where there’s less sun.  The snow color of the tourists contrasts with the color of you Cubans…with the color of the Caribbean.

“That’s true. Most tourists come to enjoy the sun, the beach and other pleasures… We’re part of those pleasures,” I told her.

“I’ve heard it said that the residents of the island are very friendly and supportive,” she continued, “but that it’s difficult for you to go to most of the nice places in your own country; people aren’t even able to save up and go on during their vacations.”

“Sure, it’s not the same thing to come from a developed country as to live in an underdeveloped one,” I added.

“I can tell you that the tourists here are well treated, though some people think that we reject them.  People try to come up to them to ask them for anything – a peso, candy, chocolate or simply to have their picture taken,” I explained.

Establishing communication with someone different is one of the challenges that many people set out to accomplish daily in the street, because solidarity is one of our characteristics, though necessity sometimes doesn’t allow all of us to be the good guys we would like to be.

3 thoughts on “You and Us

  • Hola Jorge, nice to read your column, we both know how your real life is and how tight your hands are tied. good luck, tu amigo Paul.

  • @grok again
    Socialist forces now are they? Do you mean FARC or pretty much everyone using an the ideal view of a society to gain power like all others before them? I’m pretty that Hugo Chavez has all the best intentions of the people. Who bought 5 billion dollars of military equipment from Russia? Who has Cubans in their military and civilian governments? How about China? From Imperialism to Socialism, to Communism, to Capitalism. All under a century, oh my! China would not start a war with the US and vice-versa. It would cause another depression in the economy.
    Another World War you say? What World War? Who are the participants? Why? Finally, what is a dialectical-materialist social technique? Is that another term of shortages of goods and famine? If wishes were horses, the world would be covered in…

  • This is the same problem the World over — made all the more difficult by the ugly facts of class society: where everyone is expected to ‘know their place’. Or else. In Cuba OTOH, you have the added problem of defending socialist gains (such as they are) against relentless assaults against this, coming from all angles — including in the behavior and intentions of visitors to the island. I’m sure most of you do your best most of the time; and only an ideolog with an agenda would wish to play up the few exceptions.

    As socialist forces gain ascendancy in the World (in spite of looming World war), I expect it will get easier and not harder for complete strangers to quickly develop a conscious rapport with each other, using a knowledge of dialectical-materialist social techniques (which are still primitive everywhere, at this point in time).

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