Nostalgia and the Plight of Cuba’s Elderly

By Aurelio Pedroso (Progreso Semanal)

HAVANA TIMES — Comparing is one of the most difficult human things to do, whether that’s in writing or verbally including cries or applause. Nevertheless, it’s inherent to our nature and so we can’t avoid it.

We spend our whole lives comparing, thereby validating this old rule that anything in the past was better. Cubans are addicted to this practice no matter what the subject at hand is, maybe like other people in this world or a little more even.

Get-togethers with our family and friends who come to visit us every year, mainly from Miami, also highlight this incurable disease that is nostalgia, which are filled with comparisons as well as pleasant, heated or indifferent debates.

I like to compare. I don’t deny it. There are more than enough reasons for why when we have lived out passages from any kind of book, including even Kafka’s work, during our lifetime.

I have just returned from beautiful and dangerous Guatemala where you can have your head blown off for less than a dollar and people jump up as if powered by a spring to give you their seat that corresponds to you as an elderly person traveling on a local bus with WIFI included or they give you way in a queue – not a line – so you can sort out whatever you need to. They can take away your life without even thinking about it, although you can see the respect and civic education a lot of people have.

I don’t long for this contradiction in Cuba, but one makes comparisons and asks a thousand times what is happening to us right now that soon we will be a country full of old people because different studies aimed at the future aren’t enough, but our everyday lives are.

Not waiting until 2030 which is when great things are expected to come. For now, and I don’t want to take on the ever so complicated issue of Cuba’s aging population in this article, but it’s the time now to think about lower fares for the elderly, reconsidering what the elderly and children get in the rations booklet for a better diet and finally, among other things, that a multidisciplinary committee is created to go and ask these old people who sit in parks or work quietly because their pensions aren’t enough to live off.

“I can’t live off my pension,” Antonio answers, over 80 years old, who is a watchman at a garage every other week in Marianao. “What I spend on medicine and food is more than my pension,” he says and there is a lot more left to be said in the words he swallows.

If this segment of society is going to significantly grow in the coming years, we should start putting measures into practice that ensure they live like they deserve to.



5 thoughts on “Nostalgia and the Plight of Cuba’s Elderly

  • I don’t understand Antonio’s expense comment. Isn’t medicine “free” in Cuba?

  • Respectfully inquire why my post “Isn’t medicine “free” in Cuba?” is not permitted. Sincere comment/question. Antonio mentions that he spends mpre in food and medicine than his pension. Again, honest question.

  • My mother-in-law receives a pension of 200 pesos per month ($8 US). A true reflection of the claimed success of the Castro regime after 58 years. Who amongst the supporters of the regime who contribute to these pages believes that $8 a month is sufficient – speak up!


  • The elderly do indeed have a very tough time in Cuba and retirement homes are one example that truly require your much needed generosity, as opposed to the idiots handing out crap to kids who are hanging around the tour buses.

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