Cuba Lives Decades Away from the Present

Kabir Vega

Photo: Ernesto González

HAVANA TIMES – Cuba is a strange island, a country with a warped timeline, a dimension apart in this planet where the present is ten years away from us, in the future.

A country where the capital is made up of buildings that are over 60 years old, many of which are in ruins, and last century’s cars drive along its streets, while technological progress is only thanks to the First World’s left-overs.

We live in a society where your political beliefs are worth more than money, a stagnant economy that prevents any citizen from making progress, a dystopic land ruled by judges who don’t punish evil, but authenticity and the desire to be free instead.

Most foreigners find this Caribbean island to be a fantastic place, a feeling that I can’t help but condemn, especially those who praise Cuba’s revolutionary process and call it the “Communism of Eden”, because they haven’t come to stay, at the end of the day.

Few can imagine what young people have to go through, all the things they have to do so they aren’t left behind.

It wasn’t until the second decade of this milennium that having a computer was more or less commonplace, while it took another ten years for having a “mobile phone with a line” to be normal (a relative “normality” given the fact that you can’t buy a mobile phone or line for it with state-paid wages, much less if you buy this phone from an ETECSA store).

Cuba’s alternative network was born as a result of the spontaneous desire to have access to the Internet, and it is young Cubans’ most bitter wish. They try everything they can to feel “online”, but they just end up more and more unsatisfied as time goes on, wanting to devour real technological advances even more.

And, what can I say about young vanity? Just having a pair of (original) brand shoes means sacrificing food on the table for several months, while back in the early 1990s, Cubans who were going to travel would turn to the internet surfing room in Capitolio, or homes with illegal Internet services, to try and catch up to speed with the latest fashion trends of the country they were going to visit so they would be in keeping with the times.

All of this forms part of such a strange and mindbaffling reality which is really hard for foreigners to understand. This also gives rise to a kind of chronic maladjustment in Cubans who emigrate, when they come face to face with the velocity and rigor of the First World, which is truly online, and they feel like indigenous people in a civilized world.

I recently experienced a small, but frightening, sign of this when I met a primary school child, who asked me whether I knew the Yu-Gi-Oh series (a Japanese comic, cartoon series and card game). I was worried I wouldn’t be able to meet his expectations because it had been years since I had watched the series and I knew both the game and the cartoon had evolved a great deal in the last few seasons. However, he was referring to the oldest version of the cartoon, the one that was broadcast in ‘98 to be exact, and the cards he was playing with were older that my own when I used to follow this trend back in high school. That was seven years ago.

If this child were to travel abroad and play with other children his own age, he would probably suffer a great deal in the beginning, seeing how they leave him out because he doesn’t know anything about the game.

The saddest thing about all of this is that the people who rule this country, their children and grandchildren, don’t live in this warped timeline. They have access to an alternative Cuba that follows the pace of the First World. It’s only the Cuban people, ordinary citizens, who are stuck in a time bubble.

Kabir Vega

I am a young man whose development in life has not been what many might consider normal or appropriate, but I don’t regret it. Although I am very reserved, I dissent strongly from many things. I believe that society, and not only of Cuba, is wrong and needs to change. I love animals sometimes even more than myself since they lack evil. I am also a fan of the world of Otaku. I started in Havana Times because it allowed me to tell some experiences and perhaps encourage some change in my country. I may be naive in my arguments, but I am true to my principles.



24 thoughts on “Cuba Lives Decades Away from the Present

  • Hello, I do mission work in Cuba. I do a fundraiser every year and I find it difficult time with some Americans. Some believe Cubans dont need help,they say that most live a decent life. Maybe in the Capital but I’ve seen bad conditions there but not like the rest of the country. Everyone doesnt have electricity,more importantly food.Are you allowed to write about that?

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    • Hi, I’m aware that there is a wrong image of Cuba outside. I do not know exactly but yes, as you said there is a lot of people in the country that don’t have basic conditions for a good living. I’ll write about them myself if I get the chance, and I think that most of the journalists from independent sites will write also but they sure get pressed by the government.

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  • Really good . you just picture the whole Cuban problem .I hope more people like you .start to see your points .and talk about each other .we need changes on the island .of course we do need changes all over the world .but we can start on our own piece of land .and forget about our political view or feelings .i know is impossible cause a kind a system we have .you exponent so right .that is the first to change .the system is obsolete

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    • Thanks Joe, I had the misfortune to observe the Cuba panorama since I got a little of consciousness, not only my problems, also, many from different generations. I think exactly as you do, it’s impossible to change the whole world or the country by yourself, but everyone has the possibility to change their sorrounding, they just need to make the first move.

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  • That’s the problem with kids, they never appreciate the things their parents did to keep them free. The us government wanted to keep you as slaves, the revolution stopped that. The yanks would have killed as many of your people as possible to make you their vassal, your elders stood up to the threat, and you are pissed off cos you dont have high speed internet. Well, neither do all the kids the Yankees have killed in the other countries around the world. Ungrateful little shit.

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    • I would laugh but I’m aware that exist people like you. I complained about internet, but that’s just one of the many problems I see every day, I could enumerate them but it would shorter if I just ask you this:

      Why are Cubans constantly emigrating abroad and not the other way around?

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    • Kabir speaks the truth. While Cuba is a fun place for tourists, it’s a hellhole for Cubans. 60 years of ridiculous communism has nothing for this country which should be one of the most fabulous places on earth to live. Kabir has nothing to be grateful for. He has every reason to want a different government for Cuba. As for saying Cubans would the slaves of the US is stupid. You have no idea what is going on anywhere in the world because you have no access to media. I’ve been to Cuba 4 times visiting friends and the people have no idea what’s going on anywhere.

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      • That’s crap. I’m Irish and I live in Cuba. Of course there are problems thanks to the illegal blockade imposed by the U. S. A.but children go to school without the fear of some nutter deciding to shoot anyone who moves. Free health service. How much do you pay in your American dream—land. Cuba isn’t perfect and the states far from perfect where people live in the streets and if you’re black then God protect you from some cop who feels like showing his white supremacy. As for immigrants–where does Trump come from. A Scottish Mother a neo Nazi Father his first wife from the old Soviet block and his present from Slovenia yet he has the nerve to talk about immigrants. Oh sorry all his immigrant family were white.

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  • Thank you for this. Thinking of visiting soon and this helps my understanding of the issues facing the people. Good work!

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    • Thanks Hana, it’s joy to see outsiders that easily understand the true Cuba.

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  • I just returned from Cuba on a one week trip where a visited a lot of the cultural center in Havana.. It is indeed a country where time Has stood still. Even though most ordinary kid citizens of Cuba live under challenging conditions, the thing that I was most impressed about was the indomitable spirit of the Cuban people.. They are warm and kind and generous and welcoming with a smile on their face regards to their circumstances. Certainly are realize that the travel company tried to put the best face forward of the Cuban people but I could not help but also recognize the disparity between Rich Cubans and light skin humans and dark skinned Cubans. Even though they put on a brave face and talk about the equality of the poor life the one can not help but recognize that things are not very good. The crumbling facade of Havana And the restored automobiles are just Made for the enjoyment Tourists.
    It was a wonderful Visit and like I said it is the spirit the wonderful enduring spirit of the Cuban people that makes the place special and has opened up a place in my heart for

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    • Altough to really know a country it’s impossible with just a visit, it’s heartwarming to see foreigners that return to their countries having seen both sides of Cuba, its warm colors but also its rawness.

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    • I just returned from my fifth visit to Cuba. The first four visits included visits to Santiago de Cuba, Camaguey, Trinidad de Cuba, Cienfuegos and Havana. The most recent visit (just returned to NYC just 5 days ago) was to experience the Havana Jazz Festival. I totally disagree with the opinion of Kabir Vega. This writer failed to mention that the vast majority of children in Cuba receive an education; they do not appear to be hungry; they are very eager to chat with visitors (in English or Spanish). In response to the writer who talks about “light skin humans and dark skinned Cubans”, lest we forget— This sounds very much like New York City, where I live and many other American cities. As I know we will all agree, this phenomenon is one of the many results of racism. What I love and admire most about Cuba and its people, is their resilience. In spite of all its physical short-comings, I deeply admire the spirit of the people I have met and spoken with in Cuba. There is a visible resilience against poverty, lack of physical possessions and their strong spirit to make do (and a continuance to pursue improvement in every area).

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  • Thank you for your thought provoking words. I am coming to Havana soon and want to learn about what it’s like to live in Cuba, not just see the tourist sights. I know how lucky we are in the UK to have internet and the access this gives us to information and sad to see the rudeness of ‘Nora’s dad’. Your concern for people that leave Cuba feeling left behind and out of date is thoughtful and shows a real understanding of how this can make children feel. There are too many governments that only care about holding on to their own power and not for the people whose lives they affect.

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    • Thanks to you for your comment, I hope you get a good impression of Cuba, not a superficial but an experience that feed your perception of Life.

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  • Nice article with an attempt not to cross the line in criticizing the regime too much.

    Fact is it’s a disaster the undemocratic communist experiment blocks any advancement in Cuba.
    And it won’t get better until the archaic police state is gone.

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  • Thanks for your article and your authenticity Kabir. I am also a young man from the Caribbean, and I identify with and appreciate your self-description when you say “I may be naive in my arguments, but I am true to my principles.”

    Let’s talk about both of those.

    In terms of principles – honesty and open-mindedness, the ability to reflect on your position and consider another point of view, the ability to be respectful even if we disagree, empathy – these are some principles that I really admire in many Havana Times articles and writers (although many readers may not share them!) All governments can do a much better job in these aspects, socialist and capitalist, but such is the nature of power. I encourage you and all readers for us to continue to honor these values.

    Then there are other principles that are different for different political persuasions. I am sure you must be aware of the principles that inspired the Revolution – fairness, equity, respect, self-determination, valuing human life and the quality of human life especially of the majority of locals over the material wealth of a very tiny few mostly foreigners, ensuring the safety and security of ALL from harm, whether natural disasters or violent crime or anywhere in between, ensuring that NO person suffers the inhumanity of being unable to receive basic human needs and rights such as quality education, health-care, nutrition, shelter, a commitment to gender equality, racial equality and environmental justice. And probably the most significant one of all for the millions of Cubans who have endured in the face of the most enduring trade embargo in modern history – sacrifice, selflessness and volunteerism.

    I have lived most of my life in another, independent Caribbean island, have resided in the US for the past 5 yrs (trying to get back home) and have been to Cuba and to many other coutnries, rich and poor, capitalist and socialist, countries at varying levels of success. I agree that many places have easier access to brand name sneakers, online fashion trends, cable television and Yu-Gi-Oh and all the other goodies of “free-market capitalism”! What are the principles, that guide these societies? What do they value. You mentioned one: vanity. You hinted at others – money being valued over ideas, money over health, money over equity, money over the environment, money over everything! Materialism. Selfishness.

    What do these values breed in a society? The US, because of its power, is able to hide many of these effects, and export others, but they are real. They include grave inequality in education, health, safety from natural disasters and crime, food and shelter. Violence, mass-shootings at home, and abroad: war, war, war. Hunger and poverty and hopelessness for many, drug addiction, suicide, dysfunctional families and relationships.

    Let us be clear here – to think that, for example, if Castro in 1959 or 1960 (or 1970 or 1990) just said, “Ok America, we will end this socialist communist stuff and do it your way”, that life in Cuba for the average Cuban now would be similar to the life in America for the average white American as portrayed by what is online or in movies may be more than a little naive. It would also be a dangerously grave mistake. It would be like comparing apples with lemons. What you need to do is look at the life of the average working class person of color in the plantation states or industrial cities of the US, or the life of the average indigenous person in the US or the average local in US occupied territories.

    Look at the experience of black people during and especially after Hurricane Katrina. Look at the lives of people in Flint Michigan who were being poisoned by contaminated water for years. Consider the imprisoned population in the US – 716 per 100,00 people, if you count the entire population, but 813 for Hispanics and over 2,000 for Blacks compared to Cuba’s 500. Consider the infant and child mortality rates in the US vs Cuba according to the US CIA fact-book, Cuba’s is better than the US as a whole, but more than twice as good compared to Black and Hispanics in the US. To get an idea of what life in Cuba would be like under US-controlled capitalism you have a great example almost next door – Puerto Rico! Compare the homicide and violent crime rates – 6th worse in the world! to Cuba’s. I was not in Cuba or in Puerto Rico for the hurricanes, but you were – how many people died in Cuba? From a Category 5 hurricane that made landfall for 72 hours, compared to Maria in Puerto Rico, a Category 4 hurricane that made landfall for 8 hrs? During the hurricane? Cuba: 10; Puerto Rico: 64! After the hurricane due to lack of access to medicine, supplies doctors etc. Puerto Rico: 3,000! Cuba: 10? I don’t know I wasn’t there.

    But you have real, valid points about the access to material goods and services in Cuba. Old and aging cars and infrastructure, outdated technology, lack of access to brand name clothing. This is all true, however, I am surprised that you make no mention of the US embargo! According to the BBC (British Broadcasting Company): “As of 2018, the embargo, which limits American businesses from conducting trade with Cuban interests, remains in effect and is the most enduring trade embargo in modern history. Since 2000, the Cuban government has been able to import food from the US. Cuba must, however, pay cash for all imports, as credit is not allowed. Cuba’s inability to import nutritional products from the US has led to an increase in the number of cases of iron deficiency anaemia, according to a report produced by Amnesty, using data from the UN. Some 37.5% of Cuban children under the age of three have been affected by the ban on nutritional products, the report suggests.”

    The UN General Assembly has, since 1992, passed a resolution every year condemning the ongoing impact of the embargo and declaring it in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law. In 2014, out of the 193-nation assembly, 188 countries voted for the nonbinding resolution, the United States and Israel voted against and the Pacific Island nations Palau, Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstained. Human-rights groups including Amnesty International,[2] Human Rights Watch,[15] and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights[16] have also been critical of the embargo.

    Amnesty International is concerned that the embargo is endangering the lives of Cubans. “The US embargo against Cuba is immoral and should be lifted,” said Amnesty Secretary General Irene Khan. “It’s preventing millions of Cubans from benefiting from vital medicines and medical equipment essential for their health.” But then again – that is exactly what they US is trying to do with the embargo. As Dr. William M. LeoGrande (Professor of Government in the School of Public Affairs at American University in Washington, D.C.) writes in Huffington Post: The embargo’s original purpose was straightforward: to make the Cuban economy scream — to use Cuba’s economic dependence on the United States to plunge it into a crisis so severe that the Cuban people would rise up and overthrow Fidel Castro’s revolutionary government. “If they are hungry, they will throw Castro out,” President Dwight Eisenhower surmised when first contemplating economic sanctions. “The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship,” wrote Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Lester D. Mallory in 1960. “It follows that every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba . . . to bring about hunger, desperation, and overthrow of the government.”
    Thirty years later, when the collapse of the Soviet Union revived hopes in Washington that Fidel Castro’s government could be overthrown, Congressman Robert Torricelli sponsored the Cuban Democracy Act to tighten the embargo in order to “wreak havoc on that island.”

    So you see, in their own words, American politicians have been clear that their intention was always to get Cuba, and the Cuban people, to the place that you describe right now – both in terms of old cars and buildings, as well as disillusionment with Socialism.

    Now, I am NOT saying that Castro was, or that the current Cuban communist party or government is, perfect, or even close to perfect. I really honestly appreciate hearing the experiences of a person like yourself on the island who do not even have much of a choice, and I empathize with your frustration. I really do hope and wish for positive developments in Cuba to improve the quality of life of all Cubans. I do however, come from an economically RICH, modern, quite developed, US-styled capitalist, Caribbean island nation (Trinidad & Tobago) that has new cars, brand-name sneakers and Yu-Gi-Oh cars and, much like the US and Puerto Rico, rampant drug trafficking and addiction, business and government corruption, terrible crime and violence, homelessness, environmental destruction and a lot of working people struggling to survive, and, just like many Cubans, dreaming of leaving, and a lot who have left a beautiful paradise, because they felt they could no longer survive.

    Do you know what people your and my age are doing in a beautiful Caribbean island embedded with the values of materialism, vanity and selfishness – everyone is stealing from and killing each other, from corrupt businessmen to street-gangs, for those same sneakers, cars, and Yu-Gi-Oh cards!

    There must be an answer though! There MUST be a better way. I am not sure that either Cuba or America has it, but there are things we can learn from both! Thank you and keep writing and staying true to your principles!! 🙂

    Reply
  • Do young Cubans speculate on what their political economy should look like? If not this, then what? More importantly, how to change.

    The US would gladly step in to transform Cuba they way the did Russia in the 90’s with their “shock doctrine”. Today Russia has 95 billionaires, a small struggling middle class and a 120 million workers who struggle everyday. During Russia’s “special period” the life span for males plunged by five to seven years.

    Capitalism is alive and well in Russia, but the average Russian citizen still struggles. This doesn’t mean there is no way out for Cuba. But a new political imagination must take shape before a new direction can be forged.

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  • I come from a European country that is similar to Cuba, whose people suffered some of what the Cuban people are still going through. So I understand and feel for Kabir’s pain, as I also experienced ‘what happens next’, which I think Christopher answered best.

    I come from Serbia- one sixth of what used to be a happy, successful, independent, socialist, federal, European nation of Yugoslavia. Until the fall of the USSR in 1990, when the remaining world imperialists decided to ‘terminate’ my country too, and set up their bases in it for their own geopolitical interests.

    In order to do that, they induced one of the most brutal and unnatural civil wars in history, (as my country was an intricate Brotherhood and Unity of six republics, two provinces, several ethnic groups and even more mixed marriages). And they pretended that this destruction was started by Serbia- its biggest republic. (Probably because Serbia fought to preserve Yugoslavia that they aimed to destroy, was the historical enemy of imperialists and a political and religious ally of Russia.) So not only did we suffer a decade of unprecedented bloodshed and devastation recently (1990-2000), and not only did we ultimately lose our country, but we were furthermore accused of being its destroyer and were wrongfully punished for it by the whole world.

    My country was taken twenty to thirty years behind all others too by international sanctions, so I’ve experienced a little of what you wrote about, Kabir. For more than ten years, we too had the unthinkable shortages of electricity and water in the middle of Europe, tragically empty shops, vital medicine that could only be gotten illegally, operations that could only be done if you somehow buy the surgeon, 1 000 000 percent inflation, corruption that we still can’t get out of. People with PHDs reduced to driving taxis, once carefree, prosperous and proud people fighting like wild dogs over cherry trees handed out for free by Japan. Friends of my parents being beaten to death by teenagers, because they wouldn’t give them the Nike track shoes or a new- looking jacket they were wearing. It was hell and it made us into the exact savages that they wrongfully accused us of being.

    But worse than the economic devastation was the isolation. Our famous sports teams were banned from international sporting events, our famously beautiful women were banned from World beauty pageants-we were even thrown out of the UN! And to travel anywhere we needed to wait in line for a visa and be interrogated like criminals. Of course, many Serbs still moved out the country, leaving it ever more poor and backward in every way.

    And then came the change. If we weren’t sure what the hell was happening to us, the imperialists were finally tired of hiding their face, we said no to it directly, and got duly bombarded by 19 countries of NATO in 1999. In spite of putting up a heroic and ingenious defense for 78 days, when they wanted to sign a peace treaty, then illogically we caved in. And the part that you are naively wishing for came.

    Yes, we are grateful to God that there is no more war and no more sanctions. I still don’t understand how we endured that, why we stayed in this country and had children in that hell. And yes, we are happy that we can travel freely again, that we are respected again for our beauty, hospitality and intelligence, that what you hear about us now are the conquests of our sportsmen like Novak Djokovic, rather than of our ‘war criminals’.

    And yes, our shops are brimming, are streets are filling with more cars than people, you can take out credit now and show off with wheels that are better suited to Monaco than to dilapidated Belgrade. And our young are all wearing the latest sneakers and the latest Androids. But that’s about it. Is that what Cuba is missing?

    It’s freedom that comes down to a ‘freedom to spend your money’ it seems to me. Freedom to buy any unnecessary thing and throw it away for the next; freedom to prove that you can pay for other countries’ products with your far smaller salary; freedom to watch porn for free on the Internet, phone and TV. Freedom to not care that they’ve taken a third of your country, all of your agriculture, industry and soul while you were watching porn for free or putting botox in your 20 year old face. Is that what the young Cubans are missing?

    When we ‘freed’ ourselves in 2000, we asked a famous English musician who visited us to tell us what he thought of it. His answer, to our surprise, was ‘Oh God, now you’ll get people in grey suits coming in hundreds to sell you something’. And that’s exactly what happened. As regretfully that I sound as boring and unbelievable as him.

    I wouldn’t say ‘Ungrateful little shit’ to you like Nora’s dad did, although I would agree with the rest of his concisely packed emotional reaction.

    It is not ungrateful to want to live in normal circumstances especially as a smart young man who should make something of his life. It is true that life in Cuba can’t be normal for anyone not just passing there, and that it is normal to want it to be normal. It is just that Cuba needs to be very wary and cautioned by other, ‘free-er’ countries’ experience, of whether there is true improvement and freedom in the offered alternative.

    No mortal being has devised a perfect political system, no country has reached Utopia, and those populations that we envy living well in millions, do so by stealing the life and peace of the rest of the world. Their only success is in distracting us and themselves from it and buying time of ‘what goes around, comes around.’

    I am disappointed with how easily my people’s rebellious, brave spirit is bought by shiny beads even in the 21st century, and I was hoping, like all those tourists, that Cuba has alone not fallen for it, that there was one remaining place in the world I could raise my kids into normal people. But I think our best hope is to use this Internet to join our minds over the oceans, and fixate upon something better than us humans in creating a better world. Stronger in resisting the devil’s trap that we can either be rich and bad, or good and dead.

    Love from Serbia Belgrade

    Reply
    • Thank you, Minya! I never knew these details about Serbia. I would love to find out more. Do you write on any external websites?

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      • And thank you Christopher. Your words are most enlightening to those who don’t know it, and invaluable testimony for those who have felt it on their own skin.

        I fully believe the kind of Shakespearean ploy that you mention CIA planned to attack Cuba, because it is exactly the kind that my country experienced in practice. (Ours was called Operation merciful angel). As have Iraq, Syria, Zimbabwe, and God knows how many other sovereign nations and peoples in the world.

        I know that humanity watched people burning on a stake for saying Earth is round or for having a beauty spot on their face; I know that it allowed one whole wise race of people to be wiped out, another brought to its land in chains, worked like zoo animals for centuries and then lynched for being there; and yet a third annihilated by atom bombs-twice. But somehow, I still get surprised that world continues to believe the B movie scenario they don’t even bother to change. That USA and its allies are invading countries, bombing their people and cutting them off their lifeline for decades, because these countries and these peoples and their leaders are the ones who are genocidal and who have committed anti-human crimes of Hollywood proportions.

        I am also grateful that you mentioned ‘the white saviour complex’ with which the good people of the world try to help the situation without understanding its cause or its true victims. I too am white, but the history of my people makes me feel more akin to Africans and Native Americans, and I’ve certainly felt the knife pushed in deeper by the tragically misguided humanitarianism of Angelina Jolie and Bono from U2. I think the most hurtful of all for my rock loving kind, was when ‘Nirvana’ wrote on their best album ‘Not for dogs and Serbs’.

        I don’t write about Serbia on any websites, it was a little too personal and hard. Though you’ve inspired me to. Thank you very much Christopher for your interest in my country and the truth of what was done to it, it was a real Hollywood production. I can recommend you read about it in one of Noam Chomsky’s books, like ‘Yugoslavia, peace, war and dissolution’ or listen to it in one of his many interviews on Serbia on Youtube. Ironically, some Americans have made me feel more understood than my own people and I think many are more prepared to fight their politics than UN is.

        PS: I am also very interested in Trinidad and Tobago. What a tragedy that a paradise with money is a paradise with murder. Crime is on the increase in my newly collonized country too.

        All the best

        Reply
  • Thank you for sharing in this article. I hope you are safe after the tornado.
    I recently visited Cuba and my reaction was “beautiful and sad”. We were told “there is no homelessness in Cuba. There is no unemployment in Cuba”, but one can see and hear different.
    As a child in the US all we knew of Cuba were the regular drills at school – getting under tables and desks, going into hallways, locating “fallout shelters” because Castro was sending the missles to kill us. I was too young to understand all of the political aspects of the issues but knew we were not allowed to travel to Cuba.

    As an adult I wanted to see this mysterious country so near, yet so far away.
    I want to return, stay longer and do more. There are charities there I would like to work with.
    I pray that the country heals and allows it’s people to grow and prosper. I also hope that the afore mentioned “men in grey suits” stay away and Cuba can maintain its beauty and charm….no McDonalds, KFC, etc. to spoil the land!
    Stay true to yourself and grow in knowledge. You are the future of Cuba.

    Reply
    • Hi Vara, I am curious what you mean when you say “one can see and hear different” regarding the statements about homelessness and unemployment. I have also been to Cuba and traveled around, I certainly did not see or hear anything remotely like the homelessness or unemployment I see all around me in the U.S.A. (Actually I saw none at all in Cuba, but then, I obviously did not see every corner of the country!).

      I agree that it is beautiful. I agree that some things are sad. Most of the sad things I see, as I mentioned above, are the intentional effects of the illegal US blockade. It sounds like you grew up in Miami. (“Cuba is going to bomb us” – absolutely ridiculous but of course exactly what the US officials wanted you to think, in fact, Cuba was so uninterested in attacking the US that US authorities planned all sorts of fake military aggressions by Cuba to justify a US invasion – just google “Operation Northwoods”* even considering secretly bribing Cuban officers to blow up an American ship! see below) …

      Anyway, while I admire and thank you for your kind thoughts and wishes, if you grew up anywhere in the US, I suggest that before you go to Cuba to volunteer to help the homeless and unemployed, you do so in your own country, where those problems are much worse. And if you would really like to help the Cuban people, join the rest of the civilized world in calling for an end to the illegal, immoral, vicious US Embargo on Cuba that causes much of the pain and hardship which we all lament as “so sad” in what otherwise is a beautiful, proud and amazingly brave and strong independent nation. I say this with the utmost respect for you, but as a Caribbean citizen, I honestly feel that the best help American citizens can offer anywhere in the world is to educate yourself about, and become active within America to change, the disastrous and destructive foreign policy of your home country. This would be FAR MORE meaningful and effective than traveling to other countries to fulfill the “white savior” complex by offering some minimal assistance to a problem that was first caused, and in many continues to be exacerbated by the actions of your own government, often without the knowledge and support of the American people!

      * Operation Northwoods was a proposed, and almost implemented, false flag operation against the Cuban government that originated within the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of the United States government in 1962. The proposals called for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or other U.S. government operatives to commit acts of terrorism against American civilians and military targets, blaming them on the Cuban government, and using it to justify a war against Cuba. The plans detailed in the document included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities. Don’t take my word for it, read the original document yourself from the US National Security Archives! https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//news/20010430/northwoods.pdf

      Reply
  • Kabir,
    We are so impressed by your article and your courage to see the real Cuba as well as the world. Your language was very illuminating. The image of Cubans being punished for being authentic was a sad one, for wasn’t freedom from oppression the very goal of the revolution?
    As global travelers we strive to understand the “mindbaffling reality” of Cuba. We keep going back because of the authenticity and warmth of the people that you seek to protect. Keep writing. Your thoughts and experience are valuable.

    Reply

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You don’t have to be a professional photographer, just send an image (in black and white or color), with a photo caption indicating where it was taken (city and country), type of camera or cell you used, and a small description about it.
Note: it is better for our format if you send horizontal orientation pictures. Even square will work but vertical is a problem.
Send your picture with your name and birth country, or where you reside, to this email address: [email protected]