Elio Delgado Legon

Walkway on Havana's Reina St.
Walkway on Havana’s Reina St. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Though some refuse to acknowledge it, the positive results of the social transformations undertaken in Cuba following the triumph of the revolution in 1959 are plain to see and within everyone’s reach.

Many aren’t aware of these changes because they take them for granted – over 70 percent of Cuba’s current population was born after the revolution and did not experience what came before.

Cuba’s past, which resembles the present of many countries in Latin America and other parts of the world, was fraught by every imaginable calamity. I will mention only some, to enlighten the younger readers and refresh the memory of those intent on denying what cannot be denied.

The illiteracy and low level of schooling in which Cuba’s population was maintained was one of the great obstacles to development. This was coupled with high unemployment and the precariousness of work in the countryside, where there was a certain degree of abundance only during the short three months of the sugar harvest. Because of this, most of the Cuban people lived in abject poverty, completely uncertain about their future.

That economic panorama made it impossible for the country to even consider developing a tourist industry, which would have been a significant source of employment and a means of securing hard currency for the country.

Alameda de Paula, Havana
Alameda de Paula, Havana.  Photo: Juan Suarez

Tourists, for their part, were not much interested in visiting a country which, in addition to the poverty they saw everywhere, was characterized by great insecurity and violence, perpetrated by both the police and bands of gangsters, who could begin exchanging bullets at any moment.

That was the atmosphere that prevailed in the country during the presidencies of Ramon Grau San Martin and Carlos Prio Socarras, from 1944 to 1952. As of March 10, 1952, following Fulgencio Batista’s coup d’etat, the situation worsened: those who had been gangsters became part of the dictatorship’s repressive apparatus, and no one felt safe anywhere.

Today, Cuba’s situation is diametrically opposed to this. One can walk down any part of the city at any time of day without fear of being attacked. The police work to guarantee the tranquility of citizens and the safety of those who visit Cuba as tourists.

One breaths an atmosphere of peace and safety in Cuba today. There are no gangs, no drug dealing, no homeless children harassing tourists. Nor do we see anti-riot squads launching tear-gas canisters or aiming jets of water at crowds of protesters.

The terrorist actions which aimed to destabilize Cuba for many years and cost thousands of lives have been neutralized thanks to the skill of Cuba’s intelligence and security forces.

Havana bus stop. Photo: Juan Suarez

Visitors to Cuba enter into friendly and courteous exchanges with the locals. One can ask anyone on the street for directions and they will gladly oblige, for Cubans are friendly by nature.

Cubans are no longer the backward and illiterate people they were before 1959. Today, they are a cultured people who can engage a visitor and speak to them about practically any topic.

I am not saying Cuba is paradise on earth. Like anywhere else, there are delinquents who take advantage of the unwary. However, in comparison to other countries such dangers are insignificant.

The professionalism of the police and other law and order institutions guarantees the safety of Cuban citizens and of everyone who visits the country as a tourist. I can honestly say, without fear of contradiction, that Cuba is one of the safest countries in the world.

Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

23 thoughts on “Cuba Is One of the Safest Countries

  • The main reason crime is low in Cuba
    Is not fear of police.Yes they have some
    Crime -but it is much less than Jamaica
    And east Caribbean . You can walk any where in Havana any time of day-I wouldnt try that in Kingston or even Edmonton !(Canada).
    The people in Cuba are proud of their
    Country-Cuban police have power
    -all police have some power.
    Jamaican police are corrupt ! Not Cuban police !
    I believe that Cuban people are less
    desperate and take more stock in
    Their scociety, precisely because they
    have the best education standard
    In Latin America and the Caribbean
    The rest of caribbeans are wonderful
    People-but their government gives
    them no help in medical or educational
    Issues. This leads to desperation !

  • Hope you don’t wait, James, ’til “our” government gives you “permission” to go. I’ve visited Cuba seven times over the past 55 years (including five visits between 2004 and 2012), and none by “permission”. Just go through a third or “gateway” country, like Canada, Mexico or Nassau. Via Canadian charters, like Sunwing and WestJet, r/t flights can be had for as little as $400+tax r/t, usually from Toronto to Varadero (Cuba’s Miami Beach and a two hour bus ride from Habana). Most Canadians just go to Varadero, or like resorts; these are called “fly and flop” vacations. Armed with a good travel book and a little research, however, your trip can be a much more rewarding experience, and you can travel, on your own and unsupervised, from one end of Cuba to the other. Also, if you study some Spanish beforehand, the experience becomes more interesting, as you will be able to descend into the national peso economy (or CUPS), which is much less expensive, than just staying within the tourist economy (where goods and services are charged in convertable pesos or CUC’s–however this will be changing in the future.) Also, once out of the “tourist ghettos” like Varadero, Habana Vieja, the Vedado, Trinidad, and around Parque Marti in Santiago, you are seldom hassled by the “jinateros/as”, and can meet the many Cubans who are not so focused upon tourists.

  • I would love to vacation in Cuba. Maybe someday my war mongering country will lift the embargo!!!

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