Cuba

July 1-9th.

As Operations Manager of the Grand Circle Foundation, People-to-People Cuba program, i went on a training trip and dry run to Cuba last July.  These are some excerpts of moments, memories and the fascinating facets of Cuba.

Cuba is such a beautiful place, and such a welcoming place. They identify with the United States. They watch our baseball teams, and as a non spanish speaker, I found common ground with the people i met by yelling,

“Boston Red Sox!!!”

“Veritek!!”

“Foul Ball” (attempting to tell them the story of how i caught a foul ball of a Veritek.)

Of course the Miami Cuban population is responsible for the  1969 embargo being upheld to this day. The “blockade” as it’s called prevents US tourism to the island nation.

At first i didn’t understand how we could be holding on to such an antiquated sentiment. Especially since US-China and US-Russian relations have been so compatible. Why can’t we get along with the communist in our Neighbourhood?

But the Miami Cuban population is relentless and angry even after all these years. I understand in a way when i see the mansions that are now government buildings, and the comfort they left behind. But i don’t understand enough to warrant 40 plus years of resentment. Plus all this anger toward the Castro regime doesn’t do one ounce to the Castros, it is the people who appreciate and welcome any and all tourism into their country and homes that are suffering.

The stories are endless.

Lawyers and Doctors who prefer to work as Tour directors because they earn tips.

The average salary for any and all employees is $8-$15 per month.

Ration cards, and bare bones of a grocery store serve people.

Things we take for granted like cleaning supplies, deodorant, nail polish, even simple things like spices, aren’t available to the average consumer.

Each Cuban national is allowed one cell phone. One cell line.

Internet is a rare thing.

The list goes on and on. But you don’t need to read my blog to hear these. (If you are interested i recommend http://www.desdecuba.com/generationy/)

My feelings- Cuba was beautiful. Communism works in the country-side but fails in the city.

The older generation embraces the revolution. Freeing them of capitalist desires and slavery to money to become a nation of artists, dancers, musicians. Free people and equality. The younger generation looks beyond the borders and sees the luxuries of the youth across the world- and wonders if they’ve been duped.

I would live in Cuba- or so i say to myself.

A very very close Sri Lankan friend of mine is studying in Cuba. He goes to school for free, and the Cuban government gives him a stipend to study. It’s hardly enough and he’s become skin and bones. But he is getting an education, a fantastic education, for free.  Whereas people in Sri Lanka, America all over the world are denied the right to education because they were not born into wealth, or don’t have the right connections.

There are pluses and minuses to both. But i see the utopic idea of Communism. It’s a beautiful principal.
If only it were practical….

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