When the “Yanks” Get to Cuba

Regina Cano

Waiting for tourists. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — “When the yanks get here, this and that…” a couple who are friends of mine were saying to me, ironically alluding to how life would change when more yumas (the generic word for foreigner on the island) began arriving in Cuba.

This phrase, folks, defines the expectations of some Cubans in the capital who are preparing for the arrival of the “yanks”, another source of hope that has been taking root on the island since the negotiations aimed at reestablishing relations between the United States and Cuba were announced.

In this connection, some are dreaming up plans that seem plausible and others not so much. These include:

– Traveling with greater ease in order to see relatives or visit the United States

– Investing in new business ventures (something that will benefit those who have a fair amount of capital to begin with)

– Learning or improving English, through lessons aimed at parents and children (and particularly the latter, as these language lessons are typically expensive). Parents are becoming increasingly concerned about their children’s education and the country has seen an increase in the number of private tutors that people hire.

At a different level, some look at imminent developments and expect an improvement in the range of food products available in the country thanks to purchases from the United States (those cheap products, some of which kill you and some of which don’t). Everyone here has seen that the tendency is for product prices to go up. Apparently, no one can do anything about this, so, if the “yanks”, the Chinese or “new Russians” come over, we Cubans will likely spend the rest of our lives “getting the brunt of it”, or for the middle and long term, in the hopes of bringing about an economically dynamic Cuba.

Others insist that we must be confident the Cuban government will gradually reveal new measures that benefit us.

Yet others, on the contrary, feel that “no benefits are coming”, that poor people will always be poor (it sounds like the kind of thinking people had before the revolution, unchanged in more than 50 years), and that nothing proves this more eloquently than daily life.

Others know that all they have the right to now are dreams and let themselves be carried away by the dream they’ve nurtured for so many years (Americanized Cubans that they are), as their reality has nothing to do with that dream.

What’s more, no one believes in sharing everything anymore (that precept appears to have expired, like an old medication), or in the supposed return of egalitarianism, which has been proven not to work in practice.

Today, “struggling” may well experience a change in meaning and become synonymous with receiving training, learning new languages, and become better informed about what goes on in Cuba and abroad.

One can sense the uncertainty of individuals in different social groups in the capital. Some feel they should prepare themselves for what’s coming and that real and affordable access to the Internet is needed to keep abreast with the rest of the world (in terms of knowledge and up-to-date information).

Folks, it’s not that preparing for the time the “yanks” get here has become an obsession. This “awakening” had already started with the legislative reforms of recent years.

Besides, now that the news confirms that the Cuban Adjustment Act (the dry foot-wet foot clause, to be more specific) will not be repealed [at least for now], people can still cling to the hope that, if things go wrong, they can always take to sea and continue to flee the island.

By then, no one will be able to argue with any (of the pro-US majority) Cubans when they say, be it merrily or ironically, that the “yanks” are here.

Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.

22 thoughts on “When the “Yanks” Get to Cuba

  • February 7, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    You want the embargo lifted, but still keep the Americans out? How does that work? Are you even aware of the contradictions in your position?

    And you would prefer to keep the Cuban people poor and oppressed so that you can continue to enjoy your vacations on Yankee free beaches.

  • February 7, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Since 1993 I have visited Cuba 87 times on research and have two Cuban – Canadian children that I chose to raise in Cuba. I live on the west coast of Canada and the Americans of California , Oregon , Washington and Alaska are very different than the Americans of southern Florida. The west coast Americans are very Canadian like and are very generous in their tips. I amm sure the resort workers will enjoy serving Americans from the west.
    Gordon ” CubaKing ” Robinson Port Alberni B.C. Canada
    [email protected]

  • February 7, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Americans lead the world??? Try telling the rest of the world that one… And Mr Moses… I was actually being very polite on my opinions about America… and Americans. Generally… People are people. And idiots can be found mostly everywhere. Just some places have more idiots than in other places… And those are the places that I tend to avoid… Though no, honestly I do not care a real lot for your country and it’s foreign policies… And I really do not have to belittle American’s, for you guys do a well enough job of that on your own. And I also really doubt that Cuba will forget about 50 years of American goodwill overnight. And as well (thankfully) you do not know me, nor do you know just what my relationship with Cuba has been. And my motivation is to suggest that you have another enema… for you are full…

  • February 7, 2015 at 8:30 am

    So what you are really saying is that you don’t give a hoot about Cuba, what you care about is seeing Americans belittled. I don’t care that you feel that way about Americans. We have been dealing with jealousy since our country began to lead the world. What sucks is that you take up space on planet earth pretending to care about Cuba when that was not your motivation at all.

  • February 7, 2015 at 1:56 am

    Yes I actually loved the movie Scarface… A real Cuban success story…

  • February 7, 2015 at 1:48 am

    I agree with the Analyser. The US will ruin Cuba (once again) And I have always been against the US embargo against Cuba. Though the real reason I went to Cuba was because it was free of the atypical Americans. It was just Cuba, and nothing else… Well one good thing is that the Cuban jails will fill up with Americans not respecting Cuba’s laws… That was always fun to watch on the beach in Playa Del Este.

  • February 7, 2015 at 1:29 am

    Most of the poor people in Cuba will become even poorer once the Americans arrive in force. As it is right now most people in Cuba already have a tough time affording basic things. Do you believe for one minute that the prices of basic goods will go down??? Yes many things now that are hard to find in Cuba will become available once the embargo is fully lifted. Though if the people have not the money to purchase these items in the first place what difference will it make? In the tourist areas of Havana I see high end stores that I could not even afford to shop at, let alone most Cubans. And a Cristal is 2-5CUC Though walk a bit and it is back to the usual 1CUC. Just watch what happens once the Americans arrive… The prices will double to 4-10CUC for a Cristal… Miami prices… Yes as one poster put it. ‘As a Canadian our good times in Cuba are over’ As will the good times of the average Cuban who might have been able to find a cheap beer too. Anyways once the US arrives I doubt that I will ever go back… Cubanos, be careful of what you wish for…

  • February 6, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Well, that just says it all!

    You have been calling for the end of the US embargo for years, and now that the US president has announced his intention to do just that, you are complaining about all the American tourists who will be ruining Cuba for you! It’s “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.

    Clearly, you don’t really care about the Cuban people at all. It’s all about your personal enjoyment of the “Socialist Fantasy Island”. You want to keep Cuba locked up like some bizarre social experiment which you can drop in and visit from time to time, feel all “Revolutionary” and then go back to your comfortable home in a capitalist country.

    Are you even aware of your gob-smacking hypocrisy???

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