A Sad Story from Cuba with a Somewhat Happy Ending

By Pedro P Morejon

Three generations under the same roof.  Photo: desdelabana.net

HAVANA TIMES – Cuban TV broadcasts a show called “Cuando una mujer” (When a Woman). I recently watched an episode. It told the story of a family where three generations live under the same roof, which is very common in Cuba today. The story begins with two couples (an elderly and middle-aged couple) eating lunch.

They are talking about the elderly couple’s granddaughter and the daughter of the adults, who has just finished her University studies. According to the conversation, she is a brilliant young woman and has a good relationship with her boyfriend, who has also just graduated and they know his family. In short, nothing to complain about.

The conversation turns towards her immediate future and they say that she shouldn’t get married for now, at least, as they don’t have the conditions needed to live together. The mother intervenes to say that they have always supported her in everything. At that point, the young woman interrupts the conversation and gives the big and unexpected news that she is in fact going to get married.

Everyone is shocked, but her mother begins to back her up immediately. She says that if “the girl” is going to get married, she can’t sleep in her room because it is small, that some adjustments will need to be made.

The daughter then had a Solomonic idea (that suited her, of course). The grandparents would move to her room and she would move into their room which is more spacious. Naturally, the elderly couple opposed this idea, first arguing that their bedroom furniture set wouldn’t fit in such a small room. The young woman then came up with another solution: the grandparents would move to the garage which “is fine”. It just needed fixing up and cleaning a bit, and then there would be space for everyone.

“If the garage is so nice, why you don’t you move there with your boyfriend?” replied the old man.

“Grandpa, because I’m the one getting married,” the young woman replied, hurt apparently.

A dilemma broke out at that moment and the family tried to find a solution.

The mother, who is the elderly couple’s daughter-in-law, pressured them to give in. On the other hand, they opposed the idea of being moved out of their room.

The father, who is their son, and had seemed to be on neither side up until then, finally intervened, reminding his wife that when they were young, his parents accepted her into their home, treated her like a daughter and raised the girl so they could both work, that these old people had built this home with a lot of sacrifice and so didn’t deserve to be treated in this way just to satisfy the daughter’s expectations and wishes.

Luckily, justice won out and the elderly couple didn’t have to leave their room.

I must admit that my blood was boiling the whole time I watched the mother and the young woman and their attitude, especially when you bear in mind the fact that the house belonged to the grandparents. If she wanted to get married, then she could but then she would have to look for a place to live or go to the home of her boyfriend’s family, not putting anyone out, much less the grandparents who had raised her.

However, beyond the emotions that the story and the end (happy, in my opinion) might have stirred in readers, the show exposes two realities in our country today: The serious and well-known housing problem, where many generations live under the same roof; and the other, which is a lot more serious in my opinion because of the morale it reflects, is the lack of consideration and respect that I’ve seen young people have for the elderly for years now, as well as young people who are not so young anymore.

Pedro Morejón

I am a man who fights for his goals, who assumes the consequences of his actions, who does not stop at obstacles. I could say that adversity has always been an inseparable companion, I have never had anything easy, but in some sense, it has benefited my character. I value what is in disuse, such as honesty, justice, honor. For a long time, I was tied to ideas and false paradigms that suffocated me, but little by little I managed to free myself and grow by myself. Today I am the one who dictates my morale, and I defend my freedom against wind and tide. I also build that freedom by writing, because being a writer defines me.

Pedro Morejón has 132 posts and counting. See all posts by Pedro Morejón

28 thoughts on “A Sad Story from Cuba with a Somewhat Happy Ending

  • @ Robert
    Thanks for the help. I’ve added fishing hooks and line to the list of purchases. Do i need to be careful of bringing too much of one thing? I’d rather choose who gets it rather than possible confiscation by the Aduana. Everything I’ve read says the Govt is happy for you to come if you want to “help and be involved with Cuban people”. Surely these items would fit nicely into this category . . . .?
    Any advice greatly received.

  • Average of 25 cars (including the taxis) per 1,000 people. UK 499 cars par 1,000 people.

  • Essjay – when I go home to Cuba, I habitually take two cases – for the return journey, one fits inside the other. Limit by air is 50 lbs each case or bag. I use the bathroom scales when packing. Don’t take much that is electrical – it may be confiscated by the Aduana (customs). All cases entering Cuba are x-rayed before emerging for the sniffer dogs.
    Do enjoy your visit and the people of Cuba, their music and humour! March is a good month for a visit – not too steamy and no longer cold at night (in January into February it can drop at night to as low as 12C – which if you are in a Casa Particular with slats not windows – is rather cool!

  • @ Michael and Carlyle, and Robert
    Thank you for your ideas. I’m a pretty light traveller so intend to fill my bag with “extras”.
    Few things I had not thought of, so again Thank you

  • The Best Gift I have Provided To Cuba Family,s are Fishing Hooks, Any size & Fishing Line any amount Helps feed then. Children,s Vitamin,s as a Doctor Friend Asked. Left over Shovel with No Handle, Any Left over Tools Helps Them Build or Repair there homes. Kidney Beans, Pasta, Dried Soup, Soap & Shampoo. Ladies & Girls Under Wear is a real need with shorts & Tops, Needles & Good Threads. The Finest Gift for Lady,s was a Stainless Knife for Kitchen work. I Have Found to Provide The Lady,s of Cuba your Gifts as this will ensure a Family gets the Most from us & Thrift Stores are best shopping for Cuba & you are making 2 Donations, Think of that. It is Difficult Not To Get Angry when we have Learned Too Much of the Life in Cuba & It will make you Feel Much Better with a Gift to a Cuban Family.

  • The castristas like to brag about their “volunteer ‘brigadistas’ ” having “ended” illiteracy in Cuba in 1961. What they never mention is that the illiteracy rate in Cuba in 1959 was only 24% — a very good level by Latin American standards.

    Of course, the definition of literacy as used by the “alfabetizadores” was having their students write a very brief thank-you note to Fidel for the newfound skill that he “gave” them!

  • Just hope that the “Aduana de la Republica” doesn’t seize them!

  • The “old couple” probably “supported” the system, because they had little or no knowledge of what other “systems” were available and/or because they knew that there was next to nothing that they could do about that “system”, unless they wanted a trip over to the Villa Mar(x)ista.

  • I’ve have been blessed with the opportunity to visit Cuba. And it’s definitely a gorgeous country with lots of limitations. They are in deed in need of medicine, clothing and food. Without exception transportation. That is personal vehicles to move around. It breaks my heart to see small children suffering of bad nutrition and sick with no medication.

  • To extend on Michael’s comment, off the shelf medications like Advil and Aspirin, Brita water filters, pencils, pens, notebooks, go to your local charity shop and get decent quality 2nd hand clothes, T-shirts and lightweight ladies dresses (remember Cuba is humid), cosmetics, balloons for kids – and if you have a local Dollarama or similar store other cheap toys. As Michael wrote – ad infinitum – but because of travel space, lightweight and packable.

  • razor blades, toilet paper, bottled water, medications, water filtration devices, maps of Cuba, ad infinitum!

  • Exactly! The fidelistas don’t like to mention the subject, but Cuba in 1958 ranked near the top in Latin America on most indices of economic prosperity and living standards.

  • Most likely. I’m sure that “Fortune” magazine must have had had some factual basis for including Fidel in one of their ratings of the world’s wealthiest men.
    Interestingly, Fidel kept threatening to sue “Fortune” for libel, but I don’t think that he ever got around to doing it.
    Well, Fidel must be a very capable financial planner. Imagine becoming a billionaire on a monthly income of only 100 (probably non-convertible) pesos !

  • Such a sad state of affairs. The world is changing everywhere and capitalist systems let people down as well.
    In Australia at least we (think) we have freedom of speech and movement but even that is changing.

  • Thanks for the informative comments. I found it very interesting.
    When visiting other countries I like to take small hard to get products or needs.
    I’m planning on visiting Cuba for the first time in March. What should I take as small thank you gifts?

  • Paul, I invite you to carefully re-read the article. Why do you conclude that it represents reason for you to say; “Bravo to the Cuban leadership’? Do you understand why there is a shortage of living accommodation in Cuba? Do you know that initially following the revolution, Fidel Castro nationalized property and people had the right to live where they resided? Sounds good doesn’t it? But, the problem was that they did not own that property. When their children became adults, they perforce had to live with the parents as no additional accommodation was being built – then the third generation was forced to live with the grand-parents, then the fourth – resulting in cramming people like sardines – with at best, cold running water and intermittent electricity. Then in 2013, Raul Castro decreed that people now owned the homes where they lived (ie: the great-grandparents) making the younger generations dependent upon the elderly – and removing any state responsibility for the deteriorating conditions of the property – no longer responsible for those collapsing houses!
    All that had nothing to do with the US, it was a consequence of pursuit of communist practice. The “huddled masses” are there to be directed and controlled.
    Good of you to invite and propose that others should “help Cuba out of true compassion for their plight”, but prior to doing so they should examine the cause of that plight – which is communist dictatorship and how to circumvent the restrictions which it imposes upon its people.
    I realize many think that the US government rules all, but it just isn’t so, and they most certainly do not control the Castro regime.
    As a Canadian, you would do well to examine your own government’s actions with regard to Cuba. Canada now will not issue TRV’s to Cubans at the Canadian Embassy for which you pay taxes! Even when it previously did offer such service (at a price), it rejected a huge majority of applications – and used Cuban staff to do so!
    So just sit back a little Paul and look at reality! Don’t believe that somehow Canadians are the good guys. How much per month do the miners at Moa digging the nickel for Sherritt International a Canadian company, get paid Paul? Is that an example of compassion?
    TRV = Temporary Resident Visa – necessary to visit Canada.

  • You are right Manolo I applaud you

  • The very ugly TRUTH,is that the US and their ” Manifest Destiny” feel that are destined to rule the World which far from ever happening!
    Cuba has managed to keep the US at bay and in revenge, the US have been crippling this tiny little Country with unfair economic sanctions.
    Americans show much cowardice in their treatment of tiny Countries that DO MUCH for their own, with their economic limitations. Bravo to the Cuban leadership.
    I would invite the Leaders of other Countries, not in bed with the US, to help Cuba out of true compassion for their plight.
    I am just a Canadian who has not been blinded by US propaganda aimed at unjustly alienating Cuba from the rest of the World.

  • The extended family tree ‘ a la Cubana.’ Maybe they are not as lonely.

  • Is Ridiculous,that Cuba before 1959,was a very reach economic country, and after 1959, the new system destroyed this country on so many ways.

  • Visited Cuba, beautiful country with proud people
    suffering, enough America leave them alone.

  • Communism is horrible. ! Visited Cuba three times in the past 5years. Obama he’d the right attitude and the Cubans understood his ideas would help everyone. Now it’s back to square one.
    Beautiful culture. Hope and vote to change our situation here in USA.

  • and his yacht, swimming pools, tennis courts and fleet of BMWs. But maybe Michael his portion of the 27% ownership of ETECSA which he shared with brother Raul, went like Donald Trump’s taxes, undeclared!

  • and his yacht, swimming pools, tennis courts and fleet of BMWs. But maybe Michael his portion of the 27% ownership of ETECSA which he shared with brother Raul, went like Donald Trump’s taxes, undeclared!

  • You must concentrate on the horror of living without freedoms. The material stuff is not as important. You dont have any idea of what the Cuban people suffered in the last 59 years.


  • Well, Fidel managed to find a nice place on the sea on his limited income of only 100 pesos per month! LOL!

  • The article reflects a common dilemma in Cuba where not only three, but frequently four generations have to live in at most, two bedroom accommodation. Few have the good fortune mentioned of having a garage, and a lot fewer have a car to put in a garage.
    There is a dire shortage of housing, but MININT has the resources to build both houses and apartments for its goons.
    The younger generations are dependent upon the oldest generation for accommodation – with little chance of any form of privacy – not a very auspicious start for any normal relationship. Even if there are any local dwellings bearing the notice: Se Vende Esta Casa, where do young Cubans get the necessary funds to purchase – in a country where a minumum $16 US per month is the most recent increase in pay?

  • I don’t see anything positive in this story. It shows the horrible living conditions in Cuba. The system that
    was supposed to bring everyone out of poverty is a failure. The attitude of a young person towards her own grandparents is reprehensible, but it shows she was raised in a system that has no regard for those who are no longer productive.
    The old couple probably supported that system, so they got what they worked for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.