Come and live it

Inspired by one of the many tourist advertisements, an idea occurred to me to attract visitors to the Island.  It is not an ecological tour to appreciate nature or an historic tour of the country’s plazas and monuments.  Stay “a lo cubano,” as a Cuban, could be the slogan of this tourist campaign, condemned in advance to lack interest for its possible target audience.  Come and live it, it would say on the cover of a ration book, which would be given to each of those who embark on this adventure.

Accommodations would not look like the luxurious rooms displayed by the hotels in Varadero or Cayo Coco, since our tour operators would suggest dingy rooms in Central Havana, tenements in Buena Vista and a crowded shelter for hurricane victims.  The tourists who buy this package wouldn’t use convertible currency, but for their expenses for a two week stay would have half the average monthly wage, three hundred Cuban pesos.  Thus, they could not ride in foreign currency taxis, or drive a rental car on the country’s roads.  The use of public transport would be obligatory for those interested in this new method of travel.

Restaurants would be forbidden to those who opt for this excursion and they would receive eighty grams of bread each day.  Maybe they’d even have the good fortune to enjoy half a pound of fish before they leave on their return flight.  To travel to other provinces they wouldn’t have the option of Viazul, but instead of spending three days in line for a ticket, they could be given the advantage of being able to buy a seat after only one day of waiting.  They would be prohibited from sailing on a yacht or renting a surfboard, so they wouldn’t be ending their stay ninety miles away rather than on our Caribbean “paradise.”

At the end of their stay, these risk-taking excursionists would get a diploma of “Connoisseurs of the Cuban Reality,” but they will have to come several more times to be declared “adapted” to our everyday absurdity.  They will leave thinner, sadder, and with an obsession with food, which they will satisfy in the supermarkets of their countries, and above all with a tremendous allergy to tourism ads.  The golden advertisements that show a Cuba of mulattas, rum, music and dancing will not be able to hide the panorama of collapsing buildings, frustration and inertia that they have already known and lived.

Translator’s note
300 Cuban pesos is about $12 U.S.

53 thoughts on “Come and live it”

  1. I was in an English travel agents yesterday looking for a break, they could offer me Cuba 3 weeks for £1,200 all inclusive, I wonder how many would go for your option? not many I bet, I can’t even imagine how life is for you, your family and your community. I really do hope things get better for you all, I admit I’m spoilt and have everything I could need and more, at times I don’t appreciate what I have, so thank you for bringing me back to reality. x

  2. This is a good proposal for a diet plan. I have visited as a tourist and I realize that had I visited under the suggested conditions I would have returned home weighing much less then when I arrived

  3. Pizzeta con quesso (Havana, San Rafael) – 10 CUP, I can eat 2/ day
    Mayabe beer (Havana, Murillo Y Aguacate, ask for Juan) – 18 CUP, i can drink at least 1/day
    Pollo assado (Vinales) – 20 Cup, enough for 1 day
    Pellea de gallo – 1 bet, 1 win, 40 CUP/day

    I can live there. i lived there.
    You’re right, I payed CUP for casas particolares, because nobody risked to take me in.

  4. Sorry, CUC for casas.

    I live in Romania, 20 years ago it was here a communist country. If 20 years ago Romania have those thing that Cuba have today, Ceausescu’s son would be the president of Romania right now.

  5. I second Nakr’s proposal: given the right marketing, and if the damned embargo is finally lifted, this could be a profitable venture, especially given virtually unlimited supply of overweight northamericans (alas! including myself)! On television up here 90% of the commercials are for either diet plans or pharmaceuticals. I don’t think most northamericans could do it, though; before long they’d be willing to sell their souls–or at least give head–for a Whopper, Big Mac, or bucket of Col. Sander’s chicken wings! Still, for a strong-willed, goal-driven minority, this could be an option.

  6. blah fuhkin blah (free speech).

    Ok here is the deal. When you are free come over here (Canada). We have lots of work for you and you can do what ever you like! But…you must check your education at the customs. You could drive a taxi but that is reserved for the indian man with the PHD. Better yet, Yoani, you can work in my condo like the other spanish girls do cleaning. Or maybe you can work at Tim Hortons!

    Who cares what education you have as long as you can speak freely and travel. But don’t speak to freely or the Government can lock you up and label you a terrorist.

    Oh and travel, yes you can. But not to often bc your employer will pay you $8 an hour to support your family and pay your bills. So enjoy your take home pay of $1000 CAN to pay some landlord $800 for accommodations. Feed your kid and pay some credit cards (they LOVE immigrants) and by then you have $50 left over.

    The only travel you will be doing is to and from work and as for free speech it will be with yourself bc you can’t afford a phone.

    Welcome to Democracy…This is Canada.

  7. Buen idea, yoanni! A ver que pasa con esto. Ha, mucha risa. I hear so many people tell me how this or that (or all of it) is better over there. Good, go live it and get back to us. I am in 100% agreement with the idea. Certainly we have enough communists and socialists in the northern, eastern and western US that some of these fools would be interested in the idea, right? Right? Yeah, right. Suerte como siempre!

  8. Patricio, you are right. I would like to know how many of those “romanticos” would accept the idea of living over there as regular Cuban for a while….

  9. “The mind can make a heaven of hell–and a hell of heaven!” Not that Cuba is either (although perhaps for those many up here whose religion is shopping an consumption, I’m sure it would be hell). I’d like to take Yoani up on her offer. Alas! for the time being, even though I’m drawing social (in-)security, as Celia Cruz used to croon, “Yo tengo que trabajar…” Actually spent three months there in the summer of ’59, and another three months, out in the campo, during the Zafra de los Diez Millones, back in ’69-’70, but those really don’t count. Nevertheless, since I’m somewhat of an expert at retrenchment and lowering expectations, I think I would not only survive…I would flourish. (Not for nothing is my favorite TV program “Survivorman!”) No matter what your surroundings, you can improvise. Besides, like most folks in Cuba, whether by “sponaneously reappropriating” items from their enterprise, or offering a service or product on the side, they managage to survive, and this is good practice for the more heartless, mixted economy to come (which is already here for some!).

  10. @Socialist:
    I see you on here a lot praising the socialist mind set of the Castro regime, I’m never going to bash you for your political ideals, that’s your business and you’re free to vote for the Communist Party of Canada in every election that we have.

    But my problem is with what you’re saying… I live in Canada, I have a grade 11 education and I still managed to do quite well for myself, I have a house, two cars and I travel 3-4 times per year. It’s not about education it’s about being resourceful and these Cubans are 12 times as resourceful as any of us are.

    Sure life here isn’t always easy here and there have been nights in the past where I’ve gone to bed hungry, or couldn’t afford to heat my apartment. But I’d rather be hungry and free to speak, think and prosper then be condemned to having no opinion, no free speech and poverty was a fact of life for everyone except for those willing to risk life on the black market.

    It’s just my two cents, I really think that anyone who can see Canada as a place of evil exploitation needs to to take a good long look at the rest of the world and realize how lucky they are.

  11. El equipo de transición de Obama, con el que ha hablado Público, tiene diseñado ya un plan político para la transición cubana. Los rumores sobre el deterioro de la salud de Fidel Castro (catapultados por Hugo Chávez) no se han tomado del todo en serio en Miami. Sin embargo, el debilitamiento de la salud del comandante en jefe ha acelerado los planes cubanos del nuevo presidente de EEUU.

    ¡Obama won’t be the presiden of Cuba!

  12. Sure; go ahead and poke more scorn and cynical remarks at the tourists. It’s getting a bit tiring to be constantly dumped on, hassled and hussled because we take a simple vacation in Cuba. Perhaps it’s best that we just stay away. Since we are so evil, wicked, mean and nasty, we won’t be corrupting the poor Cuban people with our money or our interest. End the embargo? Whatever. Why should we care. Bring hard to find goods to give to Cubans? Nah. Why bother. They don’t want them. Just makes them feel cheap. Let’s all start going to Mexico or the Dominican Republic -the beaches are just as nice and we don’t have to put up with all the derision.
    Cuba is easy to love but sometimes it’s difficult to like.

  13. sickboy: It’s just my two cents, I really think that anyone who can see Canada as a place of evil exploitation needs to to take a good long look at the rest of the world and realize how lucky they are.

    Sounds like the work of left-wing-nuts in your country. This is what I don’t get about Canada or much of Western Europe for that matter. There seems to be so much self-loathing. I don’t know what that is other than a sickness or some sort of mental disorder. I see this in parts of the US as well, especially in the Pacific Northwest from Portland, to Seattle and up to Vancouver. I don’t get it and I don’t think I ever will. These people speak from some theoretical viewpoint. People like Yoanni speak from a very practical and real viewpoint, which is why she should be respected instead of shouted down by others on this blog. It is OK to disagree with her. It is ok to think she has a negative view of the regime (she does), but there is no reason for the shouting and personal/political insults.

  14. You know, the odd thing is that I expect there would be a high demand for this sort of tour, and people would work zealously to get their ‘adapted’ certificate. I know Yoani means this ironically, but you only have to watch ‘Survivor’ to realize that ‘hardship’ is also marketable.

  15. Yoani Sanchez may not be rich in money–but she is very rich in her way of thinking.
    ***
    Yoani Sanchez no es rica en dinero–pero esta rica en su modo de pensar.
    ***
    John Bibb

  16. I know what Yoani is talking about, living in Serbia, changung regimes, socialism, transition toward kapitalism… What Yoani doesn‚t see is that whole World understands what on Cuba is going on, but that is not af any help. Problem is inside of Cuba and changes must take over from inside of it. If we come “to live it” that means that after we will only appreciate more our feadom and our comfort, but that will not change Cuba. Emphaty exists allredy but there are still many things to do.

  17. patricio dice: 20 Enero 2009 a las 04:58

    “This is what I don’t get about Canada or much of Western Europe for that matter. There seems to be so much self-loathing. I don’t know what that is other than a sickness or some sort of mental disorder ….These people speak from some theoretical viewpoint.”

    When posters describe in detail the unpleasant realities of day to day life in other countries, in order to give the Cubans here some perspective on global realities, you call this “self-loathing”.

    What is it then, when you, Yoani, and most of her fans rant incessantly about the all-pervasive evils of Cuban society?

    And what is “theoretical” about living all of your life without ever being able to afford a home of your own, even when you’ve worked hard all your life, as is the case for many Canadians? Or about having to work cleaning floors and toilets although you have an advanced degree or a medical specialty? Or about having to line up at a food bank every month because, after you’ve paid your rent, your old age pension isn’t enough to feed you?

    Identifying the ills in one’s society is neither self-loathing nor mental illness. It’s the only way such problems can ever be resolved. But this blog’s attempt to blame all of Cuba’s problems on Castroism is certainly unhealthy and unproductive.

    Your approach to social issues is as simplistic as that of a fan at a soccer match who cheers relentlessly for his team, no matter how badly it plays, except that, in your twisted loyalties, the other team can do no wrong, and your own can do nothing right.

  18. @ otropogo: Well said. There seems to be a bad case of the other side “grass is greener” approach on this blog. We all have dislikes about our own government and many flaws in our society. But to declare non-cubans who complain about their governemnt as mental or self-loathing is a joke. Notice that not many commentors say where they are currently living. Please tell us so we can judge your government and society.

    @ sickboy: You said “rather be hungry and free to speak, think and prosper then be condemned to having no opinion, no free speech and poverty was a fact of life for everyone except for those willing to risk life on the black market.”
    That is one of the most follish things I heard. If there were times when you went to bed hungry..why didn’t your free speech and opinions feed you? Bc free speech is BS. Just like democracy. Its all fictional. You are only allowed what they allow you to have. There are different levels of oppression but all suck. Why don’t you spend your time fighting your own government? Why dont’ you go ask people in the barrios, how they are doing and about their hardships. You will see a canadian version of Yoani! looking for that green grass except they came where it was supposed to be greener and got the same old crap, just a different system selling it to you.

    patricio: Humor us and tell us whcih GREAT country you live in!

  19. Actually, I don’t recall a single comment from Yoani concerning Canada (“the other team”). If she lived there, I’m sure she’d produce plenty of pithy observations. The free media there certainly do.
    And, I’m afraid, virtually all of Cuba’s ills ARE the result of “castroism.”

  20. No one said that Yoani commented on Canadian living. How can you blame all the problems on one man? How come nobody has toppled his “regime” or staged a coup? Surely there must be someone capable of doing this? Is this old man that powerful? LOL It sure looks as though the majority is is pro and only a handful are anti. Governments are toppled yearly by unhappy citizens but Fidel has gone un-touched. Since you all are so smart, please tell me and the other governement leaders in exile how this was done? Even Haiti manage to do it and they have less resources than any other island. Take away the embargo and cuba would be fine. As for Yoani and her Live as a cuban theory thats great. But why doesn’t she do an article on how cuban would be without the money of tourism.

  21. No one said that Yoani commented on Canadian living. How can you blame all the problems on one man? How come nobody has toppled his “regime” or staged a coup? Surely there must be someone capable of doing this? Is this old man that powerful? LOL It sure looks as though the majority is is pro and only a handful are anti. Governments are toppled yearly by unhappy citizens but Fidel has gone un-touched. Since you all are so smart, please tell me and the other governement leaders in exile how this was done? Even Haiti manage to do it and they have less resources than any other island. Take away the embargo and cuba would be fine. As for Yoani and her Live as a cuban theory thats great. But why doesn’t she do an article on how cuban would be without the money of tourism.

    Ian what is your residing country?

  22. Fidel Castro needs Jesus Christ.
    I know this site won’t win me any friends in a lot of places, but I really don’t care. The Lord told me to put up this site, so I’ll just pass along the message He gave me and let the chips fall where they will.
    Cuban dictator Fidel Castro has made a lot of enemies in the past five decades and has ruined the lives of millions of people. I don’t think there’s much debate on these points. But now he’s a politically irrelevant old man who will soon have to give an account to God for the damage he has done.
    And here is where I part ways with a lot of Castro’s critics for the simple fact that I take seriously what the Bible says not ..,
    Read the complete article in:
    Religion en Revolucion Blog
    http://religionrevolucion.blogspot.com/

  23. Hey, socialisimo, yo vivo en Nueva Orleans! We have many problems here, but I am proud of where I am from. Our culture and architecture is not all that dissimilar from that of Havana, believe it or not. We have distant relatives in Cuba. I am not the kind of person to discuss which countries are better than others. It’s not about that. I really don’t care if you Canadians wreck your country with socialism. That is your business. But I am still waiting for Cuba to be free, something that you and your ilk have little regard for. Cuba me importa mas que Canada por cierto!

  24. @patricio: The GREAT AMERICANO! Waiting for Fidel to past so that you can rape the island and resources of the cubans. Like George Busgh was any better than Fidel. LMAO In the last 8 years, Americans have killed more arabs than Fidel has in his lifetime. Canada is not wrecked. We have a better system than your country does but our government is garbage (but we don’t kill innocent ppl) and we don’t force countries to live our way, the american way. Hang you head in shame americano and hope that Obama can restore your dignity.

    Religion en Revolucion Blog: George Bush praises Jesus…..so no more talking for you, coño!

  25. @Socialist: I think the Castro regime will fall when a sufficient critical mass of the Cuban people lose their fear. Yoani already has and that’s what makes her (and people like her) such a danger to the regime.

    Right now, the Cuban state still has many tools to instill fear in the populace: a monopoly on power by what is essentially a military dictatorship, ruthlessly crushing political dissent, severe restrictions on civil liberties, the ability to hand out favours (however modest) based on loyalty to the regime and to dole out punishments (loss of jobs, ostracization) to those not toeing the line.

    It’s not so much as question as blaming everything on one man, as it is one man (Fidel Castro) making himself the embodiment of the “revolution” for the past 50 years. When that man dies (if he hasn’t already) I think that may be a pivotal event that allows more Cubans to lose their fear. Will it be enough to end the dictatorship? Hard to say, but if I was in a leadership position in Cuba I’d be worried.

  26. Oh yeah Socialist, I definitely agree with you, Bush is exactly like Fidel. I write this message here in New York while I’m on line waiting to see what charity the government will dish out to me on my ration card. I also live in a building that’s falling apart and the only thing there is a tv is “the roundtable.” My neighbors are about to tell someone in the government that I’m on this site (or any for that matter) and that I actually don’t like Bush (which I don’t). Tonight I expect to have rice and banana peels for dinner like most folks in Havana and I’m building my own raft to see if I can escape to Canada or any country that’s better off, hey, maybe even Cuba cause Castro’s better than Bush is. Oh let’s take it further…I’m going to try and marry any of the tourists that have come over for the inauguration from Europe to see if I can end up over there ’cause they’re all better off than I am. I’m gonna become a jinitera and mess around with a few of them till one of them is bound to notice me and want to go through the trouble of getting me out of this situation. I am an unhappy, hungry, skinny, afraid Gringa! Long Live Fidel and his justice!

  27. And here’s another thing, Socialist, for you to think that Canada doesn’t kill innocent people shows me that you’re even more naive than you even know. Every government’s killed and kills off somebody, dude. Wake up. I would still rather be in a country where I can get up every morning and find SOME FORM OF FOOD even if it’s junk than none at all. Why don’t you move to Cuba if it’s so fabulous and write to us from there. Let us know how you’re doing.

  28. There is a difference between George Bush and Fidel Castro. Prior to the revolution, Cuba was 80% self-sufficient in food and, according to the UN Statistical Yearbook, one of the best nourished countries in the region. Today, the island is 80% dependent upon food imports, most of which come from the US. The difference between the two leaders, therefore, is that it is Bush, not Fidel, who is preserving the Cuban people from starvation.
    Oh, and with half the arable land derelict, it isn’t the US embargo that’s preventing the sugar cane growing, the fruit trees blossoming, the hens laying, or the cows milking – for that, you need socialism.

  29. My writing is with informative aim.

    When we look about Cuba we are to think in % because so many Cuban peoples and so different way of think.
    I going to give my opinion abut Cuba and I ask sorry if I offend anybody.
    Cuba is a nation in paper or in protocol, but in reality is not a nation, I said Cuba is an artificial nation, same as Democratic Germany was.
    Democratic Germany was a nation in paper or in protocol but in reality Democratic Germany was an artificial nation created by Soviet Union.
    Why (in 50 years) so many Cuban organizations in USA have been not progressed in throw away family Castro dictator ship?
    a-Because Cuban organizations erroneously part in a base that Cuba is a nation when in reality Cuba is an artificial nation.
    b-Because Cuban organizations erroneously part in a base to see a future Cuba were exist inequality (Cuban American citizens – Cuban no access to American citizens.)

    An artificial nation has characteristics.
    One is when Cuban people renounce by millions a Cuba citizen front a USA judge to opt for USA citizen.

    Remember that Cuban people, inside Cuba Isla have the consecutive experience of 2 dictator ship, “(Batista and family Castro.)”

    Second is when Cuban people don’t have any guarantee (if they give their life for new democratic government) that new Cuban government will not be another dictator ship.

    Third is the example of Haiti and Santo Domingo that they don’t give to Cuban people persuasive example of independent nationalistic democratic progress when we see Dominican and Haitian illegally immigrate to USA; When we see social injustice and poverty and discrimination between (Haiti, Dominican with American citizen) and (Haiti, Dominican with not American citizens.)
    I ask?
    You see any Puerto Rican in rafter or container illegally immigrates?
    You see Puerto Rican mothers cried because his son or daughter dead treating to illegally emigrate (eating by shark)?
    You see dictator ship in Puerto Rico?
    You see PR paid in devaluate money?
    You see PR illegally in USA?
    In my opinion Puerto Rico status is more superior that independent (Cuba, Haiti, Santo Domingo.)

    I am not, as some government can teach national pride to another country in base of which the other country has inequality base? Example: Cubans American citizen – Cubans are not American citizen)
    Perhaps, it is going to say by force to million Cuban Americans and descendants to him of Cuban Americans who resign to the citizenship of the USA so that they decide on the Cuban citizenship?
    I think so that is not practical.

    We have to remember that in South Florida we have the second more important city of Cuba by # of Cuban bond and descendent.
    Cuba is not china o Viet Nam. Cuba is 90 miles of USA.
    The Cuban local transmission radio is easy to hear in South Florida, at the same time south Florida local radio transmission is easy to hear in Cuba Isla.
    My opinion:
    In the Cuban case, the difference is irreversible therefore up is necessary up grade Cuban to the USA citizenship, if it is that we want true democracy and justice in the island of Cuba.
    I am going to give a simple example of discrimination between Cuban USA citizen and Cuban is not USA citizen.
    USA citizens have mobility, Cuban with not USA citizen don’t have mobility.
    My opinion, the contacts family – family between Cubans USA citizen and Cubans are not USA citizen is the best way to generate another human exodus of Cuba and Haitians towards the USA, that meaning more potential for Cuba State free Associate of USA.
    I remember by precedent, when USA has a Democratic president (family Castro dictatorship) look a way to send a Cuban – Haitian human exodus to USA.
    Time may be give mi reason; Time may be doing give me no reason.
    Meanwhile “Cuban, Haitian and Dominican” illegally immigrate died, they give me a reason.
    In God we trust.
    Support Cuba Free State of USA.
    Carlos Burrowes
    carlosburrowes@univision.com

  30. @Socialist: “You said “rather be hungry and free to speak, think and prosper then be condemned to having no opinion, no free speech and poverty was a fact of life for everyone except for those willing to risk life on the black market.”
    That is one of the most follish things I heard. If there were times when you went to bed hungry..why didn’t your free speech and opinions feed you? Bc free speech is BS. Just like democracy. Its all fictional. You are only allowed what they allow you to have. There are different levels of oppression but all suck. Why don’t you spend your time fighting your own government?”

    First off how is this foolish? I never said that free speech would feed… but in my country I am free to feed myself and I am not forced to rely a my government to provide for me.
    Why don’t I fight my own government? When I am unhappy with the government I write to my MP, I post on my blog and people know. I lobby my representative in parliament and things get done. That is the beauty of Canada, everyone has a voice. Weather they chose to exercise it or not.
    Besides… what’s wrong with the government that is so dire that it needs changing? Last time I checked healthcare was still free, school was cheap, if you’re unemployed the government gives you EI and if you can’t work there’s disability or welfare. Man that sounds like such a terrible place to live doesn’t it?! It’s really easy to spout socialistic ideals from a country where you can vote and half the shit you take for granted is provided by the government and the tax dollars of your fellow Canadians.

  31. Hey, socialist, you are an idiot. I ain’t raping anyone. I believe in people, not governments. If you want to attribute all kinds of bullshit to me when you don’t know the first thing about me, I can’t help you. If you engage in which dick is bigger, Canada’s or the US, I can’t help you. I am not interested in any of that bullshit. In my mind, this isn’t about which country is better, mine or yours. It’s about Yoanni and the people of Cuba and living in a brutal system. Go pick a fight with someone else who gives a damn because you are otherwise wasting your time. By the way, I bet you wouldn’t talk like that to me in real life, punk.

  32. @Patricio: excellent point. I apologize for letting myself get dragged into this conversation.

    @Socialist: you are more then welcome to come debate current issues about Canada and its government on my blog.

  33. Socialist, you deserve a real ass-kicking for talking to someone like that. Don’t you try to hang your political garbage on me, asshole.

  34. I already posted most of what I would like to say on your entry about the young man hitting on you 🙂

    But, as I said before…yes…i’ll take you up on the offer if you agree to travel with me to a Brazilian or Bolivian shanty town. Or even better. How about the area I grew up in New York. I can drive you around to the ghetto where I worked my first job, as an art instructor at a community garden and center. You can meet kids (black kids) who’s entire family are in jail or dead. We can then go to Bolivia where people literally die of starvation and malnutrition. Does that happen in Cuba ?

    I spent allot of time at an art center in Habana. It reminded me of home. Most of the Afro-Cubans I met hated and endlessly critiqued their government. They want an end to the racism and police harassment. And they are right to fight against those things. But in Oakland, where I live now, two days after I returned from Cuba, a young black father (unarmed) was shot in the back (murdered) while laying on the ground in a subway station by the police. He was arrested for trying to break up a fight on the subway platform. I wish your country allowed me to effectively communicate with my friends in Habana. I would tell them that yea, the police all over the world engage in racism, arrest and even kill people for no reason. We need to fight it here just as you need to fight it there. But don’t ever think that our system is the answer to your country’s problems.

    Yes, Cuba has its problems. As does every other country in the world. Fix what’s wrong with your economy and political system. But honestly, as I said in my previous post, if Cuba were to allow the forces of globalization and neo-liberalism in (as Columbia and Mexcio…etc..) have. The vast majority of Cuban would suffer far far worse than they are now. And that’s a fact.

    Your government is stupid for not allowing its people to travel and see the slums and poverty the rest of the world has to face.

  35. I used to work in NYC. The projects there, in all boroughs, are/were much safer than any of our projects in New Orleans. I was more concerned about my welfare in the walk-ups than in city-run projects. I worked Washington Heights and the Bronx in Dominican-dominated neighborhoods. The reality is that you are willing to trade freedom for security. Not everyone is willing to do that. Once again, it seems to me that Yoani and others like her just want the basic things in life and reasonably secure existence. They will do the rest. I don’t know what many of you people don’t get about that. I have seen people actually say that it is a “fair tradeoff.” No it isn’t. ThereThere, are you black or a “person of color?” Do you really want to trade your freedom for a form of serfdom or indentured servitude, or worse? I don’t think so. At least, that has not been the proclamation for the last 200+ years, has it?

    The comments on this blog are really starting to evidence the fact that lots of people want to hold other people down, and that people don’t believe in individualism and the right of self-determination. Sad.

  36. Iain Salisbury said: 20 Enero 2009 a las 21:47

    “There is a difference between George Bush and Fidel Castro”

    Very true. Fidel’s father didn’t murder several thousand helpless Panamanians in one night, just to try out the latest attack helicopters and night-vision goggles.

    Have a look at the documentary “Panama Deception”, you can watch it for free at:

    http://tinyurl.com/7nf6mf

  37. True. Castro’s murders, and those of the Rosario psychopath Guevara, have been elsewhere in South America, Africa, and on Cuba itself. As a low-level agent for Stalin, Fidel’s first significant murder was of Colombian Liberal presidential candidate Jorge Gaitan, in 1948. He writes of the joy he felt blazing away at innocent Colombians with his Mauser. “Che” Ernesto followed his trail of rape and murder across Cuba (catchphrase on capturing a village, “I will now inspect the women” – with a bullet in the head for any father or husband who protested) with a murderous spell at La Cabana. I gather neither of these feature in the hagiographic drivel recently attracting minimal audiences at the cinema. Nor does his spell as finance minister, where his crazed “theory of value” drove the island into penury and has left more than half its arable land derelict and from which Cuba has never recovered. His slaughter continued in a number of debacles in Africa (most Namibians actually preferred apartheid!), before he reached his well deserved comeuppance in Bolivia. It is typical of his arrogant stupidity that he chose Santa Cruz province, there the natives were and remain the most resistant in the country to socialist claptrap. For an account of some of Castro’s atrocities on the island, see Cuba Archive: http://cubaarchive.org/home/index.php

  38. A note from your friendly English Translator and sort-of-blog-moderator, re:

    STRONG OPINIONS EXPRESSED FORCEFULLY, VERSUS ‘STRONG’ LANGUAGE AND PERSONAL INSULTS

    Just a note of caution please — the comment guidelines in this blog specifically ask you not to use obscene language or personal insults. I’m not going to censor any of the comments in this entry SO FAR, but do want to ask everyone to tone it down just a little.

    Please feel free to continue with strong and even furious debate, but try to stop short of calling each other names. Thank you.

  39. You, people are loosing the point! Comparing things that are not to compare. Comparring Fidel and Bush, comparing one gheto with a whole country, American outdoor politics with Cuban indor…
    And to @Socialist- no one who didn`t live socialism can`t talk abou it (in favour).

    1. Whole Cuba is one ghetto, living bellow world recognized standard of freedom of mind and speech, earning, feeding, living space, traveling, having a property… They should have all of that and than to decide what kind of politics to take. They shouldn’t be frightened with the cruelty of capitalism. All the time there is a price to pay. All the time you have to choose. There are many varieties of systems and regimes.
    2. The average life is that counts, not the extremes. Do you think that mass of fat Americans care of what Bush (or else) is going to do outside, tomorrow? Your life, your family and home are at the first place, and after you can discuss other things.
    3. Socialism ruined every country wherever it took a place. A note of humanity shouldn’t dope you.

    Wish them a luck.

  40. @Sogno: It depends on what you want to call Socialism. I wouldn’t call what Cuba has Socialism. Time and again Cubans and other experts have recognized that what exists in Cuba is FIDELISMO (FIDELISM) NOT socialism.

  41. @Notherethere, no one is saying there isn’t racism in the States, sure there is and quite bad too. Cuba’s got that and EVERYBODY’S hungry on top of it. I think the black people in Cuba would still rather pick the lesser of evils–put up with a degree of racism (be it high or low) on a full stomach. As Sogno above says:

    “Whole Cuba is one ghetto, living bellow world recognized standard of freedom of mind and speech, earning, feeding, living space, traveling, having a property… They should have all of that and than to decide what kind of politics to take. They shouldn’t be frightened with the cruelty of capitalism. All the time there is a price to pay. All the time you have to choose. There are many varieties of systems and regimes.”

    Life is about choosing the lesser of evils and while the U.S. or Canadian governments aren’t perfect I’d still rather be stuck here than in Cuba. Like someone said above, I don’t see people making rafts out of cars to get out of here while people of ALL RACES are doing that to get out of Cuba.

  42. @ patricio: So much anger….it’s a shame. But that is america for you. Name calling and swearing surely doesn’t say much but shows one’s intelligence. As for your threats, that’s wack. Sorry but your behaviour contradicts your beliefs and show that you are no different than the dictators you condemn.

    @ sickboy: I’m coming over to your blog, homie. I hope there are some good things going on. Peace.

  43. @ socialist, hello people curse and insult in every country. America or being American has nothing to do with it. For that matter, there are so many more ways to curse someone out in Spanish than in English anyway.

  44. My…My, you woke them up with this piece Yoani. I would use this theme every 6 months or so to show us what has and hasn’t changed in Cuba by then. Keep up the references and comparisons everyone… I am just lifelong American and need to understand your lives and choices. It is good being on a global blog. Thanks for pulling us out of our shells Yoani, et. al.

  45. I WISH TO UNDERESTAND BURROWES , ABOUT , CUBA, HITI, SANTO DOMINGO THAT HE WROTE. IT SOUND LIKE A MONDONGO OR AJIACO , NOTHING REALITY ABOUT THE TREE COUNTRIES., YES CONTRIES, YOU LIKE IT OR NOT THEY ARE

  46. Patricio: Your putting words in my mouth. If you really need to know, I am white and grew up in a very mixed, very poor neighborhood in the United States. My family is mixed race and I now live in Oakland in a mixed neighborhood. I understand very well the privilege I have in my society and know that I will never experience the kind of discrimination and oppression the vast majority of the world’s population feels on a daily basis…and that absolutely includes Cubanos. I had far more opportunity in the US than many of the other people I grew up with in NY solely because of the color of my skin. This is universal, in Cuba when I hung out with light skinned folks we never were harassed by the police. But when I hung out with my Afro-Cuban friends one of them got arrested. Its the same all over the world, Cuba is no better or worse in this regard.

    The point is that we all should be struggling and working to change what is wrong with our respective countries. The people I met in Cuba want an end to discrimination and a radical change in their country’s economy and an expansion of civil liberties. Most support the basics of Socialismo but hate the Fidelismo they are living under. The person who writes this blog is a nihilist, I can respect that, I’m a bit of one as well. But you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Socialismo in Cuba distributes very little resources very well. Nobody in Cuba is starving….*really* starving. But at the same time people are right by fighting for an end to authoritarianism, the dual currency system, racism and the total lack of civil liberties.

    I just get discouraged when my Cuban friends look to the US and Capitalism (materialism) as the answer. Its not, in the same way authoritarian communism is not the answer.

  47. @ quedijistequedijo”It depends on what you want to call Socialism” > It does not depend! What I call Socialsm is Socialsm. Every Socialsm has a name: Staljinism, Titoism, Fidelsm, Chausesku-ism

    @ „NoThereThere“ Most support the basics of Socialismo but hate the Fidelismo…“> Basic of Socialism exists only in theory, and all the time it turns into a „overbasic,“ real Socialism, most frequently with its Name and a Face, (to be harder or lighter).
    Something else is social care and social rights in developed (northern Europe) countries.

    Very important: US capitalism is not the only one as an alternative, and to compare with

  48. No There, I just don’t understand what you are talking about. Just as you cite to your examples, I can cite to my African-American friends who have done well for themselves. The beauty of our system is that if you work hard enough, you can succeed. Racism in America is now a two-way street. So just as a black man can have issues working for a white boss, a white guy can have trouble working for a black boss. In fact, that very thing happened to me in So.Cal. It was a pleasure quitting on that racist bastard and moving into a different position. The guy snarled at me when I left, so I asked him what he was going to do about it? I asked him if he wanted to take me out or something. He was so pissed, he couldn’t believe someone was talking to him like that. You may find this hard to believe, but what the guy ended up wanting me to do (related to racial politics) could have gotten me killed in the streets of Los Angeles. No thanks. I’ve been around the block a few too many times to get caught up in stuff like that. So, if you don’t like what’s up where you are at, you move on. Greyhound used to have those one-way $69 fares to anywhere in the US. I saw all kinds of people come to the end of the line in So.Cal. from 3000 miles away just to get away from whatever crap they had back there. Help yourself, don’t expect others to do it for you.

  49. I have an even better idea….first dibs goes to naive kid or old hippie wearing Che t-shirts. There really shouldn’t be a choice in their case, they should just be packed up and sent there to live as the common populace. Perhaps ignorant idealism will go out the window when they realize that a large amount of labor goes toward maintaining the very high standard of living for the Castros and their cronies.

    Isn’t it rather odd that there are people STILL willing to risk in all in order to make it to South Florida, given all of the economic issues that we have in the U.S? Yoani has issued a very valid challenge; if you are so enamored of the lifestyle of the poor peons in Cuba then “Come and Live It”…!

  50. Well, the idea was not “marketed” to us but this is exactly what we would have liked to do. The wonderful Cubans we met would not have had room for us, so we had to stay in casas, but at least we were able to share meals with them. We saw the ration booklets, we saw the lines at the stores. What really upset us is that we were chased away from shops and bars because we were turistas. We stood at the roadside and no guagua would stop for us. Only once were we able to board a blue camion (one of the few occasions we were allowed to pay in national currency). We were refused access to the Astro bus that goes from Cienfuegos to Matanzas. We would have had to take Viazul to Veradero and then backtrack to Matanzas. The reason we were given is that if tourists were allowed to use the cheaper buses, they would take away seats from the Cubans. Fine, let the tourists pay the same price in CUC for their fare as the Cubans do in pesos! It’s done at the museum, why not for transport? Of course, some of our Cuban new friends have figured out the answer to that, as we did.
    We fell in love with Cuba (going there was an old dream for us children of the sixties) but really suffered from this apartheid for “tourists”.

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