My recommendation for Cuba is to go there and experience the desolation, hopelessness, and feeling of impotence, or don’t go to Cuba and keep its people and history tucked away in a book. Stories never have only one side, and here is my experience visiting Havana.
Originally, I did not want to visit Cuba. I did not want to go to Cuba while it was controlled by a dictatorship, but sometimes it is easier for me to understand the perspective of other people when I live their so-called ideologies. This is how I came to stay in Havana for two long days. Havana, the place where the nefarious agreement between the ex-President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, and FARC was given life.
I was not curious to visit a place that froze in 1950 and chose to only change for the government’s executives and not its ordinary citizens. However, Cuba still has that idealized appeal that the self-proclaimed leftists love; a bloody and oppressive history that continues to haunt the citizens.
Cuba has that paradise-like magic that the progressive foreigners love; destroyed colonial-style streets, remembrances of Che Guevara on every street corner, cans overflowing with garbage lining the walkways, and the almost physical presence of misery and oppression of the people. You can almost hear their distressing stories shouting passively for freedom. Cuba’s charm lies in everything that evokes the forbidden, the denied, the warned, and the snatched.
Not to mention my Colombian compatriots who are seen on Facebook commemorating the life of Che Guevara or who are shocked by the death of Castro. Yet, these same people would like to find a way into any capitalist-based country.
In Cuba, 95% of the people cannot afford outings to restaurants on the weekends, and the restaurants belong to the government. Prices are in Cuban convertible peso (CUC), which is the currency for foreigners arriving in Cuba.
In Cuba there are two currencies: the Cuban peso and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). Their salary is earned in Cuban pesos, but they can only buy things in CUC. The exchange rate is 0.03 US dollar for every Cuban peso and 1 US dollar for each Cuban convertible peso. In other words: on average they earn $8/month, but they need $120/month to live decently. The leftists further support their lifestyle by saying, “but in Cuba, people do not die of hunger.” Evidently not, but they do die on their knees, humiliated, and without freedom.
Being born in Cuba is like being born a slave forever. No one born in Cuba can leave unless they are sponsored from other countries or they take a raft to Florida or the Bahamas.
They have free education, but for what purpose as a diploma cannot guarantee a dignified life. Sadly, prostitution is the only way to go as it is one of the largest sources of income for the Cuban female population. A medical student may have a better chance to get into a university than a bartender does, but a bartender makes a better living. Bartenders cater to the tourists, those same tourists from capitalist countries that come to see the ‘wonder’ of Cuba and fill themselves with the promising illusions of the distant Cuban future.
A few shocking facts:
· They only have 6 TV channels, which are provided by the government—of course.
· Books are controlled by the government (another form of brainwashing)
· There is no violence among Cubans but there is between Cubans and tourists.
· Internet access is monitored so that access to imperialistic ideas is blocked.
· Sometimes 2 or 3 families live together in the same house. After seeing how much of a mess my own kids can make, I cannot imagine how difficult it is to live with others.
· I cannot imagine how the rest of Cuba can be if this is what they determine to be the best appearance to show to the tourists.
· Cubans are happy with their lives in Cuba. The degree of happiness is inversely proportional to the number of Cubans waiting for their visas at the doors of the Spanish Embassy.
· If you want to go to the beaches, get another visa other than the ‘people to people’ visa. This one only allows you to walk the streets.
· The food is delicious. · The people still retain the warmth of the Caribbean. · The Cubans have not lost hope; the new generations know the right direction for Cuba.
· The Great Theatre of Havana · Central Park · Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes · Museum of the Revolution · Castillo San Salvador de la Punta · Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro