The English Arrived

Rosa Martinez

Tourists in Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — A few months ago, two young English couples, who had decided to visit Guantanamo city on their way to Baracoa, the main tourist attraction in the province, wanted to first stop by my home in order to meet my family.

The truth is they didn’t take me by surprise, they had told me a month beforehand, plus ever since I had met them in the province of Holguin, they had showed their interest in getting to know where I lived and what my family was like.

At the beginning, I got really anxious just thinking about the foreigners coming around, as I would have liked to have had a more comfortable home with better conditions to receive them in. But, well, you all know what Cuba is like…

You can’t change a little or anything in a Cuban home in a month, much less when it’s the home of two ordinary workers. So I had no other choice but to wash down the walls and keep everything as clean and neat as possible.

In the end, I thought optimistically, they came to see my family, not how I live, they must be fed up of seeing big, beautiful and comfortable homes in their own country, right?

Rosa Martínez

Rosa Martinez: I am another Havana Times contributing writer, university professor and mother of two beautiful and spoiled girls, who are my greatest joy. My favorite passions are reading and to write and thanks to HT I’ve been able to satisfy the second. I hope my posts contribute towards a more inclusive and more just Cuba. I hope that someday I can show my face along with each of my posts, without the fear that they will call me a traitor, because I’m not one.

Rosa Martínez has 150 posts and counting. See all posts by Rosa Martínez

9 thoughts on “The English Arrived

  • Herr Mattner, I learned with interest of your link with Walt Hollander and assume – you will doubtless correct me if i am incorrect, that you went to Cuba as a member of one of his tour groups. I also note that like me, Walt is married to a Cuban but seeks to get her to Canada, whereas our permanent home is in Cuba.
    it is I am afraid all too easy to persuade Cubans to leave their homes and country for the greener pastures of capitalist countries where they can enjoy freedoms denied to Cubans in Cuba and vastly improved living standards, but it does nothing for Cuba and succumbs to the desires of the Castro regime to rid the country of those whom Fidel Castro Ruz described variously as:
    “criminals. lumpens, anti-social elements, loafers and parasites”
    and even more briefly as:
    I assume from your comments that you consider the status quo in Cuba satisfactory and would prefer that its citizens continue to suffer repression and denial of human rights?

  • You have misunderstood the target of my contempt. As an African-American, I understand all too well when otherwise well-meaning folks assuage their moral guilt by visiting an oppressed people. They take pictures, ask questions and then leave. My criticism is far from the “struggling Cubans”. Neither is it with the tourists who visit them. I use the zoo metaphor because it feels the same. Have you ever seen the lions in the zoo? It’s sad. Yet, without the zoo option, most people would never see a lion. No judgment only tough choices.

  • Describing Cuba as a “crumbling, leaking, stinky HUMAN zoo” is more than slightly a case of a rich and revengeful American showing contempt and hypocrisy towards struggling Cubans. And that especially applies to Americans who are too ignorant or too cruel to know or to admit that history’s all-time longest and cruelest economic embargo ever imposed by a powerful nation against a small nation has and continues to play a HUGE role in Cuba’s domestic problems. For holier-than-thou, self-serving miscreants in a foreign nation to assume that Americans are too stupid or too afraid to acknowledge this situation insults the 191-to-0 vote in the UN that confirms that the rest of the world fully acknowledges it. Bullies and benefactors who benefit from or are gleeful of harming innocent Cubans are beyond being disgusting.

  • “Ni[n]compoop”? That’s cute. I’m hardly making fun of anyone. I think it’s sad that Cuban suffering is a tourist attraction. My type? OK, I give up. What does that mean? As the US, (warmongering, capitalist hellhole) despite Donald Trump, remains one of the world’s leading tourists destinations, obviously no one is listening to you.

  • Whatever dude. I just hate watching over-fed tourists with $3,000 cameras take pictures of buildings off the beaten path in Havana Vieja that are barely standing while they openly comment “Can you believe people really live here”. It seems surreal to me. And do unnecessary. If that sounds twisted to you. ….oh well.

  • Aaaahhhh Herr Mattner, how interesting that you have popped up again.
    You are correct about Cuba having been held in colonial hands for so many years and that history of the Spanish genocide of the Taino, followed by being the last country to abandon slavery (1886) but then importing Chinese indentured ‘Coolies’ to do the dirty hard work, is not something which ought to be readily forgotten or whitewashed out of the history books being used currently in Cuba’s schools. Should it?
    Cubans have no desire to return to colonial times or foreign domination, nor should they. They do have a deep desire to experience freedom of speech, freedom of the media and freedom of being allowed to vote for political parties of choice.
    Your enthusiasm to belittle and attack the US is irrelevant. There are other choices which Cubans may eventually when they have been rid of the communist yoke, be able to pursue.
    Cubans will only be able to be Cubans when they are liberated from domination and repression. Don’t you agree?
    Incidentally it is ‘nincompoop’.
    I don’t think that Mr. Patterson was putting down Cubans – his wife as a Cuban would no doubt object. I do think that he was objecting about those who regard the misery of the way of life of so many Cubans as a curiosity and as demonstrated in these pages, there are those who relish the oppression of the people of Cuba acting as if they are not entitled to the freedoms which they themselves enjoy. But no doubt he will speak for himself.

  • There are many in the capitalist free world Rosa who wonder how Cubans manage to live on an average of 33 cents (US) per day when the UN defines poverty level as $2 (US) per day. Some who have visited Cuba and reached out beyond the confines of the package tour industry, seek to discover the reality of life for the average Cuban. Due to the censorship imposed by the communist Castro regime, there has been little access by international media other than that permitted to view the likes of the highly organized (it takes a full month) May Day parade in Revolution Square, but investigative journalism has been forbidden.

  • When I travel, I want to see how real Panamanians, Mexicans, Americans, and yes, Cubans live. Every distant place and culture is interesting and respectfully peering in and interacting is beneficial and educational for all involved. Your view of Cuba as a human zoo comes only from your twisted outlook and from those of your ilk.

  • While I understand the whole anthropological angle when foreigners go to Cuba and want to see how “real Cubans” live, it still seems to always sound like planning a trip to the zoo. A crumbling, leaking, stinky HUMAN zoo.

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