A Round of Applause for the Cuban People

By Safie M. Gonzalez

HAVANA TIMES – With the exception of Havana, most Cuban provinces haven’t reported any new cases of COVID-19, for some days now. As a result, most of the island has entered the first phase of recovery.

I, and every other Havana resident, will have to wait and, while waiting, pray that the rest of our compatriots are disciplined and we can slowly get back to normal. My grandmother, who is almost 90 years old and still sharp of mind, remembers, with me, the important times we have experienced.

Cubans who were born after the Revolution were taught that work is dignifying, which is very true. Year after year, work has been the top priority of every Cuban living on this island. Some might not have found the right path, but the desire to give their family a better life is still paramount.

This pandemic has come to reaffirm the fact that the Cuban people may not be made of iron, but they take a good beating, no matter what direction it comes from. Cubans fall, but they get back up, my grandmother assures me, rocking in her chair while she drinks a cup of coffee.

Maybe people living in the first world don’t understand all too well what I’m talking about, but Cubans are natural-born fighters. Our Cuba has hit rock bottom many a time, but it has still persevered, because a Cuban doesn’t get scared off by a line.

A Cuban can’t go to bed without feeding their children, or stop washing their clothes, so they walk kilometers to hunt down what they need.

Cuba has suffered blackouts, tornados, hurricanes, food shortages, a lack of fuel and, as a result, transport, and even though it has never had to face a pandemic of this magnitude, it has managed to find a way to carry on moving forward. There’s no doubt about that.

This is why I take my hat off to many Cubans, and I clap every night, not only for the Cubans wearing white coats, but for every Cuban who hasn’t thrown in the towel in the face of so much adversity. For every one of the decades we have overcome, with tears or a smile.

At the end of the day, we are all heroes, all of us, we save lives and give hope in some way or another. So, let’s celebrate this “quasi”- victory. This new opportunity, to once again persevere.

Safie M. Gonzalez

I was born in the 80's. I love nature and animals, as well as my country. I admire the sacrifice of a people. I consider myself a simple and honest person, therefore I detest injustices. I have a taste for the arts in general, but especially for literature, photography, and cinema. I believe in the power of the word and in the ability of the human being to change the world.

11 thoughts on “A Round of Applause for the Cuban People

  • Very interesting about the Scottish pilot – he was indeed fortunate! There are all too few such success stories.

    Regarding Cuba, we had decided that i would hunker down there at home, until the 20th March, when it was decreed that non Cubans had to leave. After the initial error in February of promoting Cuba as a Covid free country for tourists and following the incident of the three Italians arriving in Trinidad bearing the virus, Cuba did the right things – which although known to others, were treated in some countries with scant regard, and decried in others.

    Having passed the death toll for Vietnam, the US has now passed that of the First World War, during which having entered late in 1917, their casualty list was tiny compared with those of the allies. Scotland suffered the highest death rate per capita.

    Thank you for the good wishes, my family Nick are all in good health as indeed is the whole community with no transportation to other places and even bici-taxis in lockdown. Nobody goes anywhere other than trying to find food – that is the real problem now and I am glad that by leaving, I am not depriving anyone.

    Regarding the mentally challenged Trump, as it now appears possible that he may lose the election in November, I have been musing what both his reactions and actions will be in his two months then remaining in the Casa Blanca. With his narcissism unchecked, the desire to inflict damage upon his “enemies” be they be media, non-whites, non-confederates or simply democrats, coupled with frustration and hate, one can only recall an expression much used in Yorkshire: “Owt’ can ‘appen.”

  • Donna Coady writes that “Really, no plane has been able to fly (medical) supplies to Cuba for 3 yrs.”

    If the statement is correct – which I have reason to doubt as I have obtained medications in Cuba of non-Cuban production, – it is not the US that is preventing such supplies being supplied. It is however possible that the pharmaceutical companies for example from India, have sought pre-payment. I think it probable that it is US companies to which she is indirectly referring.

    I can assure Donna Coady, that my Cuban relatives who have traveled to other countries to provide medical services as part of Cuba’s “brigades” have been most grateful to receive about 15% of the charges made by the Cuban regime for such services. For it makes them comparatively rich. A similar sentiment is expressed by those providing educational services. They dislike intensely having to spend so much time away from their families, but welcome the opportunity to earn sufficient to provide properly for their families.

  • Barbara, Thanks. I wish you well too and Stay Safe.

    Mr MacD, I don’t know how closely you follow football (the round ball variety) but it was Athletio Madrid not Real. You may think that I’m being pedantic but a true ‘Colchonero’ would be sending me their blessings for distinguishing them from their no1 enemies. By the way, Athletico and their aficionados are nicknamed Los Colchoneros (Mattress Makers) due to their red and white striped kit resembling old style mattresses.
    I have indeed seen interviews of the truly sane Andrew Cuomo being driven to states of varying degrees of apoplexy by the truly insane trump. As you know I am a big fan of the USA (although a highly critical one) but I am astounded by the rampant politicising in the face of this huge death toll. It ain’t politics, it’s a human tragedy.
    I have noted that the U.S. death toll has surpassed that of their losses taken during the failed invasion of Vietnam. By contrast, Vietnam has experienced zero Covid deaths despite being next door to China.
    This morning I read of a Scottish airline pilot from Motherwell no less. He was working as an internal flight pilot in Vietnam and was unfortunately struck down with the dreaded virus due to his frequenting of popular touristy drinking establishments in Ho Chi Minh City. In order to preserve their status as being a zero Covid deaths nation, the Vietnamese Healthcare Service we’re determined to keep this fella alive at all costs. They kept him ticking over on a highly expensive and specialised blood cleaning ECMO machine for two whole months (in Motherwell they would’ve turned it off after a couple of weeks but in Vietnam he’s now a national superstar). Luckiest guy in the world.

    For all its various imperfections Cuba is one of the far better places in the world in terms of Covid survival rate. I wish your family well in this and all other respects.

    You refer to the upcoming U.S. Elections and I shall give you the opportunity to ponder on this quote from Right Wing Neo-Conservative commentator Bob Kristoll ‘ Trump’s path to victory doesn’t depend on persuading Americans. It depends on voter suppression, mass disinformation, foreign interference, and unabashed use of executive branch power to shape events, and perceptions, this fall.”

    Gosh. Democracy is just so cool.

    You stay safe Mr MacD. That way we get to share a beer one of the days………

  • Yes Nick, i sympathize with the plight of sensible people in both the UK and the US. They are to a large extent, both victims of political inadequacy (that is being polite). One recalls in the early days of the pandemic, rows of cars with visitors to beauty spots in the UK and permitting over 3,000 Real Madrid football fans to visit on March 12, by which time the Spanish high level of infection along with Italy, was well known. Then the incredibly belated decision of June 8, to instruct that people arriving from other countries had to self-isolate for 14 days, something that I experienced when arriving in Canada in March when it was already mandatory. Now, Brits are to be allowed to visit other countries as tourists without isolation upon return. Roll the dice!

    As for the US, the glaring difference between the leadership of Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York State, who for 110 days in succession gave broadcast prolonged reports, instructions and guidance about numbers infected/dying, hospital capacities, procedures to be followed etc. with evident success, and the bumbling incompetence at best, coupled with almost criminal encouragement by Trump, not to wear masks, was evident to all other than than the willfully blind. The current position of evident disaster is now greeted by the Vice-President as “marked success.” The word mask is excluded from his vocabulary, although chairing the Federal Covid task force.

    As I have already said, thanks to technology I converse daily and face to face, with my wife although 3,000 miles apart. I am in consequence aware of all that has been done and achieved in Cuba. Now, there are only one or two additional cases daily, almost all in Havana. I also know just how bad the food supply problem is.

    Cuba irrespective of its politics which as you write, I deplore, faces some tough decisions and to use the word, conundrums. On the face of it, It makes good sense to try to open up some of the islands to tourism, but not yet the mainland. Problem is, who is going to fly in? Americans can’t and who wants the risk of letting them in? Canadians won’t because they face 14 days in isolation upon return, and Europeans usually seek a little more than just visiting the beach.

    Then there is the greater even than usual, problem of food. Additional mouths require additional food.

    Regarding those who “ain’t coming back”, even if registered they won’t be able to vote in November, when it appears likely that the US will decide to slough off the skin of the snake.

    Stay safe!

  • As a 33 yr worker and traveler in Cuba, I witnessed the exit of the Russians, which left Cubans almost destitute, but they fought through it shared everything and survived. Now Trump, who knows nothing of Cuba, has tightened the embargo again
    As someone who runs a medical supply charity, this is disgusting .
    Medicines and supplies are officially exempt. Really, no plane has been able to fly supplies to Cuba for 3 yrs. God bless the Cuban doctors and nurses who travel the world. Cuba will survive, God bless them

  • Thank you, Nick for your thoughtful analysis. A conundrum it is. Be well.

  • It is very interesting what you write Mr MacD. You understandably rail against perceived lack of freedom. But look at the stats. I ain’t no maths graduate but even I can figure that in say, the USA (so called land of the free) you are more than 50 times more likely to die from Covid 19 than you are in Cuba.
    That’s a pretty stark difference.
    It’s not even close is it ?
    Here in the U.K. we are now seeing the explosion of illegal street parties, park parties, beach parties, warehouse parties, motorway underpass parties, block parties etc ad infinitum. Way too much for the Police to be able to control. The cops make continued vain efforts to stem the flow of outlawed hard core drugs which end up underpinning such events but really only ever lightly scrape the surface of this multi million pound trade.
    These events, according to medical experts, will serve as ‘super spreader’ gatherings which will potentially usher in a dreaded ‘second wave’. Heaven forbid. Many, if not most British Citizens would prefer a total clamp down on these illegal activities which are being variously described as an outrage and an affront to the common good (I kinda half take the view that you’re only young once……)

    This simply would not be tolerated in Cuba.
    In the UK we have the worst death rate in Europe and we are an island. (Or at least we are one big island with an anachronistic slice of the island of Ireland and a myriad of often beautiful smaller islands). The death rate here is a total disgrace.
    A lethal case of Government malpractice.

    As I pointed out on a different thread, there is a grim trade off.
    For it’s ability and insistence in ‘compelling citizens to comply’ Cuba will experience far less of a Covid Cull.

    From my relatively neutral political perspective I find this to be an interesting conundrum.

    Freedom is ostensibly a wonderful thing but once you are dead from Covid 19, you ain’t a comin’ back, and any opinions you may have had on that ‘ol freedom debate are well and truly past tense.

    As I say, it’s an interesting conundrum.

    Apart from all that rumination, the author makes positive and very hopeful points and I wish all of Cuba the very best in these trying times.

  • As for me, Cuba is home, I am very happy to see the pandemic being brought under control there. As a totalitarian state where the population is accustomed to doing as instructed, it has been to date, relatively easy, because as Curt correctly points out, in Cuba those who fail to conform to regime edict are thrown into jail – the pandemic has not changed that.

    Diane obviously as a tourist, fails to comprehend that the people of Cuba do not have behavioral choice. My wife and family have been compelled by the system to comply – walking the dog has become difficult – I am in daily contact.

    Paul Harrigan being Irish, has never been subjected to communism. For his information, one of the first actions by the Cuban regime was to re-direct the intended food supplies for the hotels, into the public system. When that had been rapidly consumed, the scarcities of foods further increased.

    As I have written previously, I have a 9 year old Cuban God-daughter, she has two younger sisters. I share Paul’s sentiment regarding children, but in Cuba it is the regime that decides whether they remain healthy in body – the daily sandwich and yoghurt at school – whilst also ensuring that their minds are compliant.

    I like the assurance that “change will come eventually”. How old will my God-daughter be before she can enjoy freedom of mind and expression?

  • There is no doubt Cubans are a very resilient people much like us Irish who throughout history and repression arose up again because it’s in our blood. Surely the government can do a lot more to help ? The food that would have gone to all the hotels if there was no pandemic should be made available to every citizen even to buy. The children of any nation is our future and it’s our responsibility to make sure they grow to be healthy both in mind and body. Stay strong Cuba and change will come eventually.

  • Well done cuba and it’s people can’t wait to return keep safe all
    Diane from uk

  • Great article. Maybe the US needs to adopt the same procedures as Cuba and throw people in jail or fine them heavily for not wearing masks. It may sound draconian but Cuba has brought the problem under control. Kudos to the Cuban government and its doctors!.

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