Havana: A City of Invisible Nags

Located in the municipality of Arroyo Naranjo, Reparto Electrico is one of Havana’s many commuter suburbs. Most of its residents earn very low incomes and must travel many miles to get their places of work. Public transportation services are very limited there, and neighborhood residents rely on horse-driven carriages to get to the bus-stop.

Cuba: Censorship, Self-Censorship and Common Sense

As a mechanism for ideological control, censorship is not unique to totalitarian regimes. The fact censorship exists nearly everywhere should not, however, be used by governments to justify its practice as an unquestionable right, nor as a kind of consolation for those whose right to dissent is curtailed.

Cuba: Hooking and Similar Trades

No one calls them jineteras, not even prostitutes. To their customers and those who disapprove of them, to all of us who know what they do for a living (even police officers), those ragged women one sees soliciting at the side of the road are quite simply chupachupas (“lollypops”).

Cuba, Endorsements and the Caste System

Finding a good job in Cuba is no easy task. On many occasions, having been “vouched for” (that’s to say, recommended) by an important person, a member of the Communist Party is far more important than being able to demonstrate one is qualified for a certain type of work or position.

A Cuba for All Colors

Alexis graduated from a Cuban tourism school. He studied to become a chef for years and graduated with honors. In a number of competitions, his teachers praised his dexterity and good taste, as well as his cleanliness and ability to improvise and innovate. Alexis, however, hasn’t had much luck finding a job.

Havana Between Screams and Silence

Havana is a city of loud people. No sooner has the sun risen (before the roosters start to crow) than yelling begins to be heard over every other city noise: the voice of the neighbor who wakes up those who have no alarm clock, the mothers getting their kids out of bed on school days, the street cries of the baker and screams of an elderly woman asking someone on the curb to turn off the water pump.

My Havana of Parking Lots

While Holguin, one of Cuba’s eastern cities, continues to be known as “the city of parks”, Havana will soon be known as “the city of parking lots”, one of my neighbors jokingly told me. Let’s have a look at this logic.

Cuba’s Ration Booklet: A Catalogue of Privations

This is the basic consumer basket of the average Cuban: five eggs and some pounds of rice (the kind that “gets sticky”, not cooked) every month, enough sugar to turn a regular glass of water into an emergency breakfast, one kilogram of table salt (with crystals the size of Ping-Pong balls) once every who knows how many months. Placing these product quantities on the same plane as monthly needs entails a complicated mathematical operation.