My Friend Lazaro: The Dreams of the Common Cuban

Osmel Almaguer

The Habana Libre Hotel. Photo: Elio Delgado Valdes

HAVANA TIMES — At 35, Lazaro is a Cuban like many others, a good person without great ambition, that is, someone with a run-of-the-mill job and rather humble income.

He has a girlfriend whom he very much wants to marry. He is a lawyer but works as a supervisor at a bank, where he earns 60 Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) a month. He would like to have a better job where he can earn more money, but he knows that, for now and perhaps for a long time, he will have to do with the job he has.

That is why he’s decided to marry his girlfriend soon. He hopes his friends will give him the money he needs to spend his honeymoon at an all-inclusive hotel, some 200 CUC (US 220).

“It’s all a Cuban like me can aspire to,” he says to me and, even though I don’t totally agree with him, I nod my head in agreement. I understand his situation. Getting married, a formality which in Cuba is nothing more than that, a mere tradition, devoid of the important contractual dimension it has elsewhere, is important to him, important enough to spend a weekend at a hotel (where, as they say, they “treat you like a person.”)

Hearing him speak with so much conviction made me want to get married, or at least put together the 200 CUC and have a taste of that people speak so highly of.

In today’s Cuba, staying at one of these big hotels is pretty much a pipe-dream for a great many people, and I feel their numbers will grow every day. It is something they have never experienced but know they will like. That is why, when the opportunity or pretext presents itself, many “throw the house out the window”, as Lazaro intends.

2 thoughts on “My Friend Lazaro: The Dreams of the Common Cuban

  • Hear Hear!
    It is obvious that many of the subscribers to this site are ignorant of the realities of Cuba. lazaro is a very fortunate Cuban earning almost three times the average earnings, twice that of a Doctor or High School teacher. As you Moses correctly point out the tour guides are the rich – with tips from the tourists from the capitalist world. Literally, crumbs from the rich man’s table. That is a consequence of being imprisoned in the Socialismo system dictated by the Castro family regime.

  • Only in Cuba are lawyers, doctors, engineers and other well-educated, highly-qualified people forced to make these kinds of choices because they are so poorly-compensated for their work. In the meantime, bartenders, dancers, tour guides can earn a king’s ransom, in Cuban terms, simply because they come in contact with tourists. Castro-style socialism has failed the Cuban people and should be replaced with a government chosen by Cubans and not by the tyrannical Castro oligarchy.

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